The news is still so fresh that @ACLU-NJ still has the photo above in their pinned tweet. But a few minutes ago, we got word that the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) has lifted the ban on prisoners’ access to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow in facilities where it was banned. Law professor Alexander’s book spent weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and discusses the so-called ‘war on drugs,’ the mass incarceration of black males it creates, the removal of their rights and the racial caste system it has created, the new Jim Crow.
“The ban on ‘The New Jim Crow’ violates the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the correlative protection of Article 1, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution,” ACLU attorneys Tess Borden and Alexander Shalom wrote to Gary Lanigan, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
So, congratulations to the DOC. Good move. And amen to this from Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, who late last year introduced the End For-Profit Prisons Act, which would phase out the kind of privatized confinement facilities that base their profit off how many people they can lock up for how long. That is very much a part of what’s wrong in the American obsession with locking people up.
We should not be discouraging reflection while in prison. We should desire a prison population leaving more educated than when they entered. To ban this book goes directly against that opportunity for growth.
— Bonnie WatsonColeman (@RepBonnie) January 8, 2018