NJ Prisons Lift Ban on “New Jim Crow”

indexBy Free Radical

After receiving intense scrutiny based on an ACLU challenge, the New Jersey prison system lifted a ban on the award winning book, The New Jim Crow on Monday. The New Jersey Department of Corrections also said that it would review its existing policy of placing books on its banned list.

Earlier that Monday, the ACLU announced that it would attempt to remove The New Jim Crow from the New Jersey prisons’ list of banned books. The critically acclaimed work by Michelle Alexander assiduously details how the prison industrial complex unfairly targets inmates of color.

In a letter to Gary Lanigan, the state’s corrections commissioner, ACLU staff attorney Tess Borden, wrote “For the state burdened with this systemic injustice to prohibit prisoners from reading a book about race and mass incarceration is grossly ironic, misguided, and harmful.”

According to the Guardian, New Jersey has the widest disparity between Black and White incarceration rates in the nation.

The New Jersey penal system bans books that threaten prison safety, are overtly sexual, incite violence, or provide instructions on how to break the law. Curiously, The New Jim Crow does not fall under either of these categories. Yet neither do other banned materials like The Source and XXL hip hop magazines.

In an emailed statement, Michelle Alexander wrote “There’s no reasonable explanation for this save one: prison officials must fear what would happen if people fully understood how biased and corrupt our so-called justice system actually is.”

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