Blacks make up the majority of the nation’s population of those serving time in different prisons, whose budgets in several state have seen dramatic decreases.
A lot has happened in the four years since the publication of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, a landmark book that showed how the “war on drugs” and the mass incarceration of black Americans has undermined much of the progress achieved by the civil rights movement.
States around the country have downsized their prison systems. Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana for adults. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has promoted a less punitive approach to the prosecution of drug crimes.
And yet, in a press call on Thursday sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates for the decriminalization of drugs, Alexander warned against complacency. She called for the U.S. to not just stop the war on drugs, but to pay “reparations” and give a public platform to the communities of color most harmed by the drug war.
“When I see images of people using marijuana and images of people who are now trying to run legitimate marijuana businesses, they’re almost all white,” she said, noting she supports legalizing pot.
“After 40 years of impoverished black men getting prison time for selling weed, white men are planning to get rich doing the same things,” she added. “So that’s why I think we have to start talking about reparations for the war on drugs. How do we repair the harms caused?”
She added that the government should pay reparation money to families that have been destroyed by the drug war. “You can’t just destroy a people and say, ‘It’s over, we’re stopping now,’” she said.
READ MORE: HuffingtonPost.com
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