After pressure from the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the N.C. Department of Public Safety removed Michelle Alexander’s "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" from its Jan. 23 Disapproved Publications Report.
In an ACLU press release, Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of N.C., said the book's message was important to the inmates, and the prison system couldn’t rightly restrict it given North Carolina’s history.
“For North Carolina — a state with such stark racial disparities in its criminal justice system — to keep a book about racial injustice away from those incarcerated is not just shameful and wrong. It’s also unconstitutional,” he said in the press release. “Michelle Alexander’s book shines a light on the pervasive racial injustice behind America’s epidemic of mass incarceration. North Carolina officials must lift the state’s ban immediately.”
Brook said in an interview that DPS complied with the ACLU's request the day after a letter was sent to the department Jan. 22.
“On the one hand, we are appreciative of the Department of Public Safety’s prompt response to our letter," he said. "On the other hand, the fact that the Department of Public Safety responded so quickly is some evidence that this book should never have been on the banned book list in the first place.”