NJ Prison Officials to Allow Alexander Book to Inmates

I’ve said many times that I think Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow is one of the most important books written in the last couple decades in this country. The story it tells of the racist nature of our mass incarceration system is horrifying. Prison officials in New Jersey were apparently so upset about it that they refused to allow it to be sent to inmates.


New Jersey corrections officials say a bestselling book on mass incarceration and racial discrimination will now be available to inmates at all state correctional facilities, following a ban that had withheld the book from some facilities.

The announcement came on Monday after the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union questioned why at least two prisons had banned The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, an acclaimed 2010 book about discrimination against African Americans in the criminal justice system.

The pressure group argued the ban amounted to unconstitutional censorship of speech on issues of public concern, which is entitled to special protection under the first amendment.

I’m glad they overturned that decision and will allow the book into the prisons. And I hope the renewed attention to the book will lead to more people reading it. It’s an incredibly important book, documented in extraordinary detail, that shows the racist nature of our criminal justice system from top to bottom. If you haven’t read it, please do.

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