Inspired by the book “The New Jim Crow” which he read earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited California’s San Quentin State Prison Tuesday afternoon.
“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, a law professor and civil rights advocate, explores the idea that the “war on drugs” has unfairly led to the mass incarceration of non-violent black and Latino males as well as their treatment as second-class citizens once they get out of prison.
Zuckerberg read it earlier this year as part of his “Year of Books” challenge, and decided to visit the Marin County prison with his wife Priscilla Chan to see first-hand what prison conditions are like by talking to inmates and staff.
Unlike many prisons in the US, San Quentin runs programs to teach inmates skills, like coding, that will help them find jobs and has earned “one of the best track records of people not returning to jail” after they are released.
“Making our criminal justice system fairer and more effective is a huge challenge for our country,” Zuckerberg writes. “I’m going to keep learning about this topic, but some things are already clear. We can’t jail our way to a just society, and our current system isn’t working.”
Interestingly, he visited on the same day as the first Democratic national debate, where race relations and mass incarceration in the United States will likely be a topic of conversation.
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