Critics from the far left have claimed The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness supports the status quo by using a mainstream, white, middle-class theoretical framework and have dismissed it as a "white liberal consumer product." Joseph Osel, for example, claims that the author's language "misleads its readers, mystifying and obscuring the true coordinates of the problem" in order to hide the author's deeper allegiance to the current power structure. Careening from initial enthusiasm to outright rejection, these critics dismiss The New Jim Crow as "white capitalist bourgeoisie rhetoric, dressed-up as black social concern."
These critics suggest the book provides a cathartic release for white liberals without threatening the "oppressive hegemonic assumptions" of capitalism; a word the book fails to mention. The New Jim Crow, they claim, excludes the work of radical black thinkers and black power advocates. These left-wing critiques often reflect the basic assumptions of neo-Marxism, Critical Race Theory, or neo-Gramscianism.
Another principle critique is the argument that Alexander fundamentally misdiagnoses the incarceration epidemic as stemming from the war on drugs. The book Locked In, for example, points out that drug offenders are only a small minority of the prison population, and that the majority of those drug offenders are in prison for violent crime.