Monday, November 4, 2013

'Lead Them Back to Good Jobs, Good Homes and a Better Life'

By Mishana Garschi

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of theMarch on Washington and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, George Washington University is hosting a year-long “Pro(Claiming) Freedom” series of events. The fall segment concluded in September with an address from New York Times bestselling author Michelle Alexander. Her renowned book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has brought the issue of racial and criminal justice to the forefront – finally giving these issues some of the attention they deserve.

In honoring and remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Alexander asked, “What does Dr. King’s dream mean in an era of mass incarceration?” Here Alexander is eluding to the fact that 65 million people in this country have been branded as criminals and stripped of their human rights that they supposedly won in the  civil rights movement. Alexander outlined key points of her book, which illuminates how mass incarceration has specifically marked African-American men as permanent second class citizens through the "War on drugs."

Alexander concluded with the opinion that any successful path to racial justice in the criminal justice system must include those individuals that have been marked as “guilty.” She stated, “We need to create an underground railroad for people released from prison and lead them back to good jobs, good homes and a better life, but we have to be willing to work for the abolition of this system of mass incarceration in America.”
Alexander is author the foreword author of "Incarceration Generation," JPI's coffee-table book of essays chronicling the rise in incarceration. In the book, she writes:

"If there is reason to hope that light flickers at the end of this dark tunnel, it is because of the sores of individuals, advocates, grassroots groups, churches, foundations, and organizations -- like the Justice Policy Institute -- that refuse to give up. ... 'Incarceration Generation' is a trip down that tunnel, showing the who, what, why and how of this nation's 30-year prison boom."

A booksigning and panel discussion is scheduled for Thursday, November 14, 2013 in Richmond, VA at Virginia Union University. No RSVP is needed. Click here for more information.

For more information on "Incarceration Generation," click here.

Mishana is a former JPI research intern.

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