ACLU-NJ, NYCLU Support Legal Aid’s “New Jim Crow” Prison Book Drive, Prompted in Part by States’ Book Restrictions

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
January 31, 2018 2:30 pm

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The ACLU-NJ, together with the New York Civil Liberties Union, gave their support to a book drive by the Legal Aid Society’s Decarceration Project to provide incarcerated clients at New York State correctional facilities with “The New Jim Crow,” written by civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander.

The book drive was inspired in part by the ACLU-NJ’s advocacy resulting in the lifting of a ban on “The New Jim Crow” in two New Jersey prisons, along with successful advocacy by the New York Civil Liberties Union to challenge a book ban in New York State prisons.

“The New Jim Crow is on our list of recommended reading for every person in America, inside prison and out, and this book drive helps place it in the hands of people most affected by the injustices it describes,” said ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney Tess Borden, who authored the letter calling on the Department of Corrections to lift the ban. “Legal Aid’s book drive gives even more power to advocacy throughout the country to undo our racially unjust system of mass incarceration.”

Following New Jersey, North Carolina lifted its ban on “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book about the connection between racism and mass incarceration.

“Our incarcerated clients should never be cut off from accessing books of empowerment that especially unpack the hard truths and explain the inequities with our criminal justice system,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “No jurisdiction should stand in the way of incarcerated people accessing this information. We hope to collect a hundreds of books over the coming weeks to send directly to our clients all over New York State.”

Through an Amazon Wish List, the public will be able to purchase “The New Jim Crow” for The Legal Aid Society staff to directly mail incarcerated New Yorkers in state correctional facilities. The wish list is accessible at or via the Legal Aid’s homepage:

“It is unthinkable that we are still discussing banned books in 2018,” said Joshua Norkin, project coordinator at the Decarceration Project. “We should be empowering people to better understand what they are experiencing first-hand—that their incarceration and the failings of the criminal justice system fit within the larger context of racism in America.”

Visit the book drive page:

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