Michelle Alexander: The uncomfortable truth, however, is that crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years. Crime rates have fluctuated over the last few decades — they are currently are at historical lows — but imprisonment rates have consistently soared. Quintupled, in fact. And the vast majority of that increase is due to the War on Drugs.
Michelle Alexander: The skyrocketing incarceration rates of the past three decades have not affected all segments of California’s population equally. African Americans and Latinos have been hardest hit, thanks largely to the war on drugs — a war that has targeted people of color for drug crimes, even though studies show they are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites.