Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Anders Walker


This Article revisits the claim that mass incarceration constitutes a new form of racial segregation, or Jim Crow. Drawing from historical sources, it demonstrates that proponents of the analogy miss an important commonality between the "new" and "old" Jim Crows, namely the debt that each owe to progressive and/or liberal politics. In a manner that scholars like Michelle Alexander forget, both racial segregation and mass incarceration owe their existence in part to discourses of reform aimed at promoting black interests, albeit with perverse results. Recognizing the aspirational origins of such systems helps to better explain how they came into being, meanwhile marking an important causal factor in the persistence of racial inequality in the United States.