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Racial Justice in America
An evolving guide to resources related to racial justice in America.
Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
How can it be in a nation that elected Barack Obama that a third of young black men are controlled by the justice system, and black men are seven times likelier than white to be in prison? Michael Tonry demonstrates in lucid, accessible language that these patterns result primarily from drugand crime control policies that disproportionately affect black Americans.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer's coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
No Equal Justice examines subjects ranging from police behavior and jury selection to sentencing, and argues that our system does not merely fail to live up to the promise of equality, but actively requires double standards to operate. Such disparities,Cole argues, allow the privileged to enjoy constitutional protections from police power without paying the costs associated with extending those protections across the board to minorities and the poor.
"Each episode explains a new criminal justice issue and features conversations with experts and advocates." From The Appeal, independent journalism focused on criminal justice issues, particularly mass incarceration.
This podcast on "incarceration and prison abolition...elevates people directly impacted by the system." From Shadowproof, an independent "press organization driven to expose systemic abuses of power in business and government."
Hosted by Udi Ofer, the deputy national political director of the ACLU and the director of the ACLU campaign for smart justice, this podcast episode discusses the history of mass incarceration in the US and ways people can fight against mass incarceration in their own communities.
The Sentencing Project "works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration."