Michelle Alexander made a shocking claim in her 2010 book The New Jim Crow: In the wake of the civil rights era, she argues, criminal punishment has come to succeed slavery and legal discrimination as a powerful and comprehensive system of racial control in the United States. As a civil rights lawyer and law professor, Dr. Alexander assembled decades of social science evidence in building a strong and convincing case for her provocative claim. The book quickly became a best-seller, inspiring students, prisoners, policy makers, and readers from all walks of life. We spoke with Alexander about exposing—and pushing back against—carceral control, as well as spreading social science beyond academia.

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