Saturday, 29 February, 2020


ACLU wants prisons to end ban on mass incarceration book

The New Jim Crow Race Prisons
Bennie Garza | 08 January, 2018, 23:41

In response, the ACLU is arguing that the ban against The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is unconstitutional.

"The New Jim Crow chronicles how people of color are shut out of society by mass incarceration", the ACLU wrote in a letter to the New Jersey state corrections officials."That the very prisoners who experience the worst racial disparity in incarceration in the country should be prohibited from reading a book whose precise goal is to examine and educate about that disparity adds insult to injury". The ACLU blames the N.J. corrections department's supposed culture of systemic racism, pointing out that the state imprisons 12 times more black people than white people.

"Michelle Alexander's book chronicles how people of color are not just locked in, but locked out of civic life, and New Jersey has exiled them even further by banning this text specifically for them", said Amol Sinha, the executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey, in a statement.

"In addressing prisoners" First Amendment rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly clarified that "prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution, ' nor do they bar free citizens from exercising their own constitutional rights by reaching out to those on the "inside, '" ACLU lawyers argued".

"The DOC-and every player in the criminal justice system, from police officers and prosecutors to judges and legislators-must take affirmative steps to reduce our state's shameful racial disparities", wrote Tess Borden and Alexander Shalom, attorneys with the state's American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter, in a letter to the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

"The ratios and percentages of mass incarceration play out in terms of human lives".

The ACLU-NJ claims the ban amounts to censorship and that prisons and jails can ban reading materials only on the basis of legitimate concerns, such as security issues.

Alexander weighed in on the controversy Monday morning, saying her book had been banned by a number of prisons around the country.

"It is one thing to prevent incarcerated people from reading how-to manuals on lock-picking", wrote Borden and Shalom. Black men make up only 15 percent of New Jersey's population, and yet 60 percent of its prisons. The ACLU did not say whether it would pursue legal action if prisons don't comply.

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