how a 13th amendment loophole created america's carceral state

Humanity and Society, 39(4), 456-475. The media’s reporting and perceptions of crimes has a large impact on the public opinion of crime. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. According to a report by Dr. Ashley Nellis, African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites, and at least ten times the rate in five states. The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) refers to the “overlapping of interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.” The private prison industry has expanded over the years to the point where the increase of incarcerated people in America incentivizes companies because of the appeal of profits. It has a tendency to focus on the most serious crimes, mainly those committed by people of color. In January 2019, Virginia lawmakers failed to pass a bill introduced by Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas) that would have changed the prison-work program, run by Virginia Correctional Enterprises, so that the goods are sold on the open market instead of directly to state facilities and universities. Required fields are marked *. Could this clause be a serious loophole that allows for modern-day slavery in the form of mass incarceration? Modern day prison labor in the United States is rooted in the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and has created a system of slavery that we are more comfortable with. Prisons, companies, and governments continue to profit from the prison labor industry.

JMU and many other Virginia universities and colleges have yet to publicly detail their stance on the matter. Thus, incarcerated people do not have any of the same rights or protections awarded to other working Americans.

If the exaggerated punishment of people stopped, the system would cease to exist and the stakeholders would stop making money. The Virginia code requires that all “departments, institutions, and agencies of the Commonwealth that are supported in whole or in part with funds from the state treasury for their use” must purchase items manufactured by incarcerated persons in state correctional facilities.According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Virginia pays incarcerated people between $0.55 and $0.80 an hour for their labor.

A cursory review of literature related to the historical context giving rise to the targeted incarceration of Black men in the U.S. suggests that very few contemporary scholars make the link between the U.S. system of slavery and the U.S. system of imprisonment. This system thrives off of punishment. This trend of being “hard on crime” was an ideology also adopted by President Bill Clinton. Additionally, Southern states also began creating large prisons during this time in order to house the growing population of incarcerated people. Final Presidential Debate: What You Should Know. All Rights Reserved. Because of a loophole in the Thirteenth Amendment, Black Americans have historically and presently been subjected to structural disadvantages that reinforce cheap labor from the vestiges of slavery. This loophole of not using furniture produced by prison labor is treated as a secondary option, essentially nudging the university to use VCE for it’s furniture purchases. It’s also crucial we contribute to efforts that attempt to erase these inhumane, racist practices. Your email address will not be published. Stahler, G. J., Mennis, J., Belenko, S., Welsh, W. N., Hiller, M. L., & Zajac, G. (2013). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. The 13th Amendment has been used to force incarcerated people in the United States to participate in labor and other arduous tasks against their will.

Why are we as a society more comfortable with slavery in its current form? The high rate of incarceration among black people has major impacts on their mental and physical health and overall quality of life.

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