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End the New Jim Crow Action Network

Por Alouette Batteau
December 2020
End the New Jim Crow Action Network! (ENJAN, pronounced “engine”) is a group seeking to fight and end the racist criminal justice system of mass incarceration in the Hudson Valley and beyond. With over two million people in prisons and jails and over five million people on probation and parole, the United States has imprisoned or detained more of its own citizens than any other country in the world.
This racist system disproportionately targets African American and Latino/a/x people. In Dutchess County, African Americans account for over half of those sentenced each year, despite taking up only 10% of the population. ENJAN is fighting to put an end to the “War on Drugs.” Started in the early 1970s by President Richard Nixon, the “War on Drugs” has populated prisons with non-violent offenders since its initiation, targeting marginalized groups and forcing them into a cycle of violence while revoking their rights. Fighting to end this war includes putting an end to private “for-profit” prisons, jail expansion in Dutchess County, discriminatory sentencing, Stop-and-Frisk, and other methods of racial profiling that use excessive use of force and other manifestations of police brutality. Through this work, ENJAN believes in the restoration of all civil rights, including voting rights, regardless of someone’s prior convictions, and funding for programs that assist those released from incarceration. 

The New Jim Crow
Mass incarceration is the modern version of the segregation that was implemented by the Jim Crow Laws of the late 19th century and early 20th century. While the language of justification has shifted to become more politically acceptable, the structure of racial oppression has not changed. The New Jim Crow is a term coined by Michelle Alexander in 2010: a “racial caste system” of legalized discrimination that pushes unwanted groups to the edges of mainstream society. It uses the criminal justice system as a form of racialized social control, denying convicts and ex-convicts the right to obtain employment, housing, and public benefits. Though outwardly racist language and laws are less acceptable to the general public, the rhetoric of the New Jim Crow promotes colorblindness by ignoring the implicitly racist regime implemented in prisons. 

As the Hudson Valley, specifically Poughkeepsie and beyond, has a large presence of African Americans, Latin Amerians, and immigrants, the New Jim Crow greatly affects our community. Over the past few months, we have seen multiple instances of police brutality, namely the murder of Maurice Gordon in June, 2020. The lack of action to protect black lives, as well as the decision to build the new Dutchess County Jail, puts our area at the center of the Black Lives Matter and End the New Jim Crow conversations.

In order to make the fundamental changes needed to put an end to the racist system of mass incarceration, we must shift away from punishment that cultivates a cycle of poverty. Currently, people of lower income and opportunity -- disproportionately African Americans and Latono/a/x people -- are more likely to be punished for involvement in crime, even though white Americans commit as much crime as any other racial group. As they are forced into the prison system, they lose even more of their rights, so when they get out they are often in a more dire situation than they were before. This cycle of poverty and incarceration isolates marginalized groups and does not allow for any social mobility. Instead of perpetuating the current criminal justice system, we must move to more restorative and rehabilitative approaches to crime, including massive reinvestment in education and job creation, as well as investment in mental health and economic stability programs. Join ENJAN in order to promote the protection of marginalized lives and end the New Jim Crow.back to top

La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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