In her 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander examines the practices and policies that have quintupled the U.S. prison population over the past 40 years. She argues that these policies have created a permanent underclass of disenfranchised convicted felons who are overwhelmingly black and Latino. Alexander has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. She teaches at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University.
How did you begin your research into the patterns of racial discrimination and social control that you call the “new Jim Crow”?