Criminal Justice or the New Jim Crow?

The rate of incarceration in the United States is higher than anywhere else in the world, and our legal system has shown a particular structural bias against black males. Author Michelle Alexander explores and documents this phenomenon in her book, The New Jim Crow, and we wanted to know what prisoners across the country thought of Ms. Alexander’s position.

Prisoner Express enlists thousands of prisoners to participate in creative writing, journaling, and art programs.

Since we only had 150 copies of the book, we asked interested members to write and tell us why we should include them in the project. Then, at PE, we sorted through all of the application letters and formed a diverse group of prisoners to receive the book and a series of accompanying questions.

Over a few months, students from the Alternatives Library read the responses and created a compilation document to share with all the prisoners who participated. It was exciting for us to see how opinions changed as the prisoners read the book.

Please read through their comments about prison life and their reaction to “The New Jim Crow” and consider supporting Prisoner Express.

Please click here to support Prisoner Express and help us reach our current fundraising goal

We have 500 copies of Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut for our next book club assignment, but we need to raise $2000 to pay for the postage to mail the books, questions and compilation documents to the participants. By supporting PE, you will be supporting our next book club assignment — you will be giving prisoners the opportunity to become educated, grow, and express themselves freely.

Click here to read prisoner responses to The New Jim Crow.  

— Gary Fine, Founder of Prisoner Express 

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Gary Fine

Gary Fine founded Prisoner Express as a project of the Durland Alternatives Library 15 years ago when he was the assistant librarian. Since then PE has grown to over 4,000 members participating in the exchange of letters, writing, poetry, and art.