We've all heard about the evils of mass incarceration, made perhaps most salient by Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Reactions to the book have largely been positive and you need not look far to find a review of this important text (SocialistAlternative.org, New York Times, Boston Review, International Socialist Review, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Yale Daily News, Washington Lawyer, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, and my own in the Texas Law Review Dicta are but a few of the many reviews). Savvy Internet searchers that you are, I am sure you've also come across numerous reading groups, discussion board threads, and local meetings organizing people around the important issue of mass incarceration. These are all great.
But, now what? Alexander suggests we need a mass movement to end mass incarceration. Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins have joined forces to call on the White House to address mass incarceration. They remain relatively quite about their plans however. We do know that several hip-hoppers are involved including Lil' Wayne and Nicki Minaj. KultureKritic.com and BlackBlueDog.com have both reported this story.
Questions remain... What should we expect from Simmons and Watkins and their associated stars? Will their work reach the masses who will need to join in the effort to end mass incarceration? When will we have a better idea what Simmons and Watkins want and what their strategy is for achieving it? Simmons and Watkins are surely doing important work, but we'll need to wait and see what becomes of their efforts.
-- Nick J. Sciullo