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Governor’s Plan for Prisons Ignores Racial History

The title of this post is also the title of an Op Ed in today’s Sacramento Bee, criticizing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for failing to address the racial dimensions of California’s prison crisis.

In this timely Op Ed, Associate Professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of the Law and 2005 Soros Justice Fellow Michelle Alexander argues that

“… California, like the nation as a whole, has treated generations of African Americans and Latinos as largely disposable. They have been rounded up by the thousands, locked in cages, and upon release ushered into a parallel social universe in which they can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits – reminiscent of an era we supposedly left behind. Most of the people labeled felons are not murderers or dangerous criminals. They are black and brown, very poor and paying the price of a get-tough movement driven not by crime rates, but by politics – a politics that has scapegoated the most vulnerable as a means of scoring political points.”

Professor Alexander’s Op Ed, like her new book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, calls attention to one of the most troubling, and challenging, facets of domestic policy today: the tremendous suffering inflicted by both crime and criminal justice policies on people and communities of color.

Professor Alexander will be speaking at Stanford Law School on February 10, 2010, at 12:45 p.m. in Room 230. Additional speaking engagements will be posted when they become available.

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