The New Jim Crow sounds like a great book. From Coates' review:
And despite claims of shrinking government and kicking the poor off the dole, mass incarceration effectively meant a new sprawling bureaucracy. Prisons, it turns out, are expensive. "The reality is that the government was not reducing the amount of money devoted to management of the urban poor,' Alexander writes. "It was radically altering what the funds would be used for. The dramatic shift toward punitiveness resulted in a massive reallocation for public resources. By 1996, the penal budget doubled the amount that had been allocated to AFDC or food stamps."