Sunday, August 31, 2014

Daniel Little on incareceration in America

"It is becoming increasingly clear that the criminal justice system is an important component of the system of race in the United States today." says Dan Little.
At one time, there were profit aspects too "The end of the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment threatened to undo Texas’s sugarcane industry.
Foreign sugar imports were still subject to a steep duty, and American growers sometimes enjoyed subsidies. But profits would be severely diminished by the abolition of cheap forced labor. The problem was solved, though, during the early days of Reconstruction.
First, the Texas legislature introduced laws aimed at incarcerating freed slaves and their early descendants. Vagrancy laws were a favorite, but black men could be imprisoned for a host of frivolous reasons. You could do a nickel for stealing blackberries off a bush. The first series of laws—known as the Black Codes—was overturned by the federal government, but the practice of mass incarceration continued by a more localized, less visible, fiat.
Once incarcerated, the prisoners were leased to large agricultural corporations, which put them to work in the cane. " from Ground down to molasses: The Making of an American folk song.
To some extent that continued with the privitization of the prison system "The federal indictment says the two judges accepted $2.8 million in kickbacks from the owner and builder of two privately-run juvenile detention facilities. In exchange, the judges agreed to close down the county’s own juvenile detention center, which would have competed with the new, privately-run facilities. In addition they guaranteed that juvenile offenders from their court would be directed to the privately-run facilities." from an article in The Christian Science Monitor

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