Is Prison The New Slavery?
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Is Prison The New Slavery?

How we might consider prison the new Jim Crow Law.

Is Prison The New Slavery?
Alex Milan Tracy

In the U.S., jails have always been a silent problem that no one speaks about. However, over the past few years, it has slowly been brought to light but it still isn't enough. Mass incarceration rates are at an all-time high. America has over 2.4 million people that are in jails and prisons according to the Bureau of Justice. This means that America's jail system has a higher population than some countries, which is ridiculous. Prisons and jails are supposed to be used to reform behavior, but they have been used to do everything but that.

When I was younger, I believed that jails were the answer to things. I thought that since people were doing these bad things they deserved to be locked up. However, the more information that I received about the jail system, the more I realized that it is a system that needs to be reformed. Netflix debuted a film directed by Ava DuVernay called "The 13th," which was very informative. It spoke about how prisoners are forever branded as such like cattle. It is hard for a person who was formerly in prison to find a job. But not only that, it's hard for them to get financial aid when they try to attend school. It's hard for them to receive food stamps. Former prisoners are not left with much to do, which is why some people end up back in jail and become repeat offenders. Not only that, some become depressed and there are no outlets to help them.

For example, Kalief Browder spent three years in jail without being lawfully convicted. He suffered for years from a mental illness which ultimately led to his suicide. There are many other cases where people suffer from mental illnesses and depression after being in jail. It makes me wonder why there aren't any efforts to help people get back on their feet after they go through jail. Yes, I understand that they committed a wrongdoing but some people with petty crimes face lengthy sentences that change their life forever and not in a good way.

The jail system is also being damaged by becoming managed by private companies. Currently, the biggest prison strike in history is going on right now and not many people know about it. There are at least 20,000 prisoners on strike according to Ben Strike, who works with Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, in his interview with The Intercept. They are protesting the inhumane conditions in jail. The labor from prisoners is used to cheapen the costs of labor for the government and other companies. In exchange for this labor, prisoners get paid between 30 cents and a dollar an hour. Not only that, but they are working in dangerous conditions and if they get hurt, they don't get compensated for it.

Some seem to think that prison is a new form of slavery. I agree that it is similar in some extents. Prisoners are practically branded after they are released. They are forced to work in inhumane conditions. They are pulled away from their families and their absence can affect them. Sounds familiar?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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