Chapter Two of the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”by Michelle Alexanderis titled “The Lockdown”, a prison allusion to social control mechanism enforced by tactical and premeditated force. A “lockout” is considered the most aggressive and hostile anti-labor tactic applied by employers such as shutting a plant, dismissing the workers and hiring scabs.
The chapter examines the structure of mass incarceration. It describes the structure of mass incarceration, converging on the war on drugs. Alexander examines the inflated powers and incentives of the police and the fate of those who become ensnared by the system. The chapter points out that those arrested hardly receiveany meaningful legal representation and in addition, are pressured and compelled into plea bargain deals that involveextended control by the penal system, from which they have a very faint chance of freeing themselves.It presents the history of the war on drugs and draws out the process by which the war on drugs was created. It also expounds on the ways the victims of mass incarceration get “swept up” in the system andpresents the particulars of how the war on drugs is effected by means of financial incentives, plea bargains mostly in lieu of threatened larger prison term, unfettered and unregulated prosecutorial power, and disempowered Judges.
In the latter pages, the chapter examines the role of the US Supreme Court in “immunizing” structural racism from legal challenge by undoing the protections of the 4th Amendment.It expounds on how the legal apparatus permits prosecutors and police wide discretion to apply a double standard. In this chapter, Michelle Alexander notes that the Supreme Court has made it fundamentally impossible to challenge or dispute racial bias in the criminal justice system.
The chapter goes on to demonstrate how the Supreme Court has stripped the right to litigate for racially discriminatory unwarranted search, suspicion, pretext stops and SWAT team home invasions, actions which are rarely taken against whites. It also addresses the targeting and profiling of the men of poor communities of color, with most whites exempt from being incarcerated, supposed guilty, or having their homes invaded.
In conclusion the main ideology that this chapter puts across is the message that in the American judicial system resisting inequality is a futile undertaking and it is skin color that makes the difference between one finding himself free or behind bars and not an act that goes against the laws of the land.
Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (illustrated, revised ed.). New York: The New Press.
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