Jim Crow system

During the Reconstruction period, many racial reforms were instituted but later averted by the Jim Crow system (Healey et al., 2018). It was a competitive racial relations system that encompassed all aspects of social life in southern America from the 1880s to the 1960s. Healey et al. (2018, p.52) explain that the objective was to alienate African Americans from the mainstream society, to make them poor and powerless.

Although the Jim Crow system seemingly ended after enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Alexander (2020) reveals the US’s new Jim Crow system. First, she illustrates that the new Jim Crow system allows the criminal justice system to target black men through the war on drugs (Alexander, 2020, p.5). This is comparable with the former Jim Crow system, in which Butler (2010) and Healey et al. (2018) finds the criminal justice had an extra-legal response to African Americans. Butler (2010) reports that African Americans were arrested and incarcerated for minor offenses, which is comparable with the new Jim Crow system that has severe consequences for the distribution of crack (associated with blacks) than powder cocaine (associated with whites) (Alexander, 2020).

Also, the current civil penalties are comparable with those in the Jim Crow era. Starr (2014) reports that blacks receive 10 percent longer sentences than whites for the same felony in the Jim Crow era, comparable to the current severe civil penalties, such as restricted access to public housing and student loans for criminals freed from prison (Alexander, 2020). Both systemic segregations have negative implications such as escalating class inequality, poor health outcomes, and mass incarceration, as Alexander (2020) has cited. When minority races are denied access to critical social amenities, they end up poor and powerless (Healey et al., 2018). Epidemiologists recently found that most women breast cancer cases among blacks are on people born during the Jim Crow era (Silverstein, 2018).


Alexander, M. (2020). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press.

Butler, P. (2010). One Hundred Years of Race and Crime. Journal Of Criminal Law And Criminology, 100(3). Retrieved 3 November 2020, from.

Healey, J., Stepnick, A., & O’Brien, E. (2018). Race, ethnicity, gender, & class (8th ed.). SAGE Publications.

Silverstein, J. (2018). Jim Crow Laws Are Gone But They’re Still Making Black People Sick. Vice.com. Retrieved 3 November 2020, from https://www.vice.com/en/article/wj73j9/health-effects-jim-crow-laws-cancer.

Starr, Sonja B. (2014). “Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Sentences.” M. M. Rehavi, co-author. J. Pol. Econ. 122, no. 6: 1320-54.