The New Jim Crow tracks the ways that United States' law and custom has evolved from the Civil War to the present to maintain what Michelle Alexander calls America's "racial caste system" in various iterations. The thesis of the book is that the history of race relations in America can be divided into thee major periods corresponding to three such iterations:
1) slavery, which was foundational to American society and culture and persisted in its classical form until the Civil War and reconstruction in the 1860s;
2) Jim Crow, which emerged in the wake of reconstruction as a way to keep the "racial caste" system intact and persisted until the civil rights movement; and
3) mass incarceration, which emerged in response to the civil rights movement just as Jim Crow emerged in response to reconstruction.
The laws and court cases that Alexander tracks in the book are meant to help her tell the story of how these transitions took place in order to prove her overall thesis: mass incarceration is the...
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