The New Jim Crow

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Bill Clinton Character Analysis

Born in Arkansas in 1946, Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 as the 42nd President of the United States. A Democrat, Clinton is largely associated with centrist policies that sought to fuel economic growth and increase global stability. In The New Jim Crow, Alexander focuses on Clinton’s controversial welfare reform efforts and escalation of the War on Drugs. Alexander argues that Clinton is responsible for increasing the suffering of poor, black, and/or incarcerated people by draining support for social welfare and exaggerating the cruelty of the “tough” approach to criminal justice.

Bill Clinton Quotes in The New Jim Crow

The The New Jim Crow quotes below are all either spoken by Bill Clinton or refer to Bill Clinton. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice vs. the Law Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the New Press edition of The New Jim Crow published in 2012.
Chapter 1 Quotes

During Clinton's tenure, Washington slashed funding for public housing by $17 billion (a reduction of 61 percent) and boosted corrections by $19 billion (an increase of 171 percent), “effectively making the construction of prisons the nation's main housing program for the urban poor.”

Related Characters: Bill Clinton
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

Alexander has described how President Bill Clinton was determined to appear more “tough on crime” than any of his predecessors or Republican peers. As a result, he not only dramatically increased support for the War on Drugs but took the same “tough” approach to public assistance, significantly cutting welfare. In this passage, Alexander describes the horrifying result of these twin actions by arguing that prisons became the new “housing program” for poor communities of color. While this statement may seem unbelievable, the statistics Alexander cites throughout the book provide evidence that it is valid. In this light, the “tough on crime” approach of Clinton and other politicians looks like little more than merciless neglect and cruelty.


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Bill Clinton Character Timeline in The New Jim Crow

The timeline below shows where the character Bill Clinton appears in The New Jim Crow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Rebirth of Caste
Justice vs. the Law Theme Icon
The Illusion of Progress Theme Icon
Racial Castes, Stereotypes, and Hierarchies Theme Icon
Violence, Surveillance, and Social Control Theme Icon
Myth, Dishonesty, and Conspiracy Theme Icon
...control of the criminal justice system.” On the other hand, both Republicans and Democrats—including newly-elected President Bill Clinton —continued to advocate a “tough on crime” approach. Clinton helped to pass the federal “three... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Cruel Hand
Justice vs. the Law Theme Icon
The Illusion of Progress Theme Icon
Violence, Surveillance, and Social Control Theme Icon
Myth, Dishonesty, and Conspiracy Theme Icon
...people were re-enslaved by being thrown into prison or otherwise roped into forced labor. Additionally, Bill Clinton ’s welfare reform legislation includes a clause stating that those who have been convicted of... (full context)