Convict Leasing | Black History in Two Minutes

Although the 13th Amendment passed the Senate in 1864 and the House in 1865, the loopholes that exist continue to wreak havoc on the African-American population. To ensure the cotton industry would remain unaffected once the slaves were freed, convict leasing — a system that provides prison labor to plantation owners and private corporations — was implemented. The ramifications of this system continue to this day.

Those who were arrested — even on minor charges — were locked up and used as free labor while behind bars. This also signaled a shift in the racial makeup of prisoners as more African-Americans were targeted by law enforcement. In this series of Black History in Two Minutes or So, more light is shed on the capitalization of private prisons and how African-Americans are used to fuel the profits for America’s criminal justice system.

Archival Materials Courtesy of:

Alabama Department of Archives and History Alamy Images Bruce Davidson / Magnum Photos DON HOGAN CHARLES/The New York Times/Redux Getty Images Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Sadie Dayton Photography.

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