The Legacy of Slavery and Prison Labor: Background information when reading American Prison

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American Prison

A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment

by Shane Bauer

American Prison by Shane Bauer X
American Prison by Shane Bauer
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  • Published:
    Sep 2018, 368 pages

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Rose Rankin
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About this Book

The Legacy of Slavery and Prison Labor

This article relates to American Prison

Four men in a convict leasing chain in 1915With the Justice Department currently pushing for harsher sentences after a brief period of relative leniency during the Obama Administration, the explosion of the prison population has become an increasingly relevant social and political issue. America has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world (with 2.3 million people currently living in its prisons, jails, and other detention centers), and one in five criminal offenses is related to drugs. It is common to see this as a recent phenomenon—a change due to "tough on crime" policies such as three strikes and mandatory minimum sentences. These laws undoubtedly contributed to the recent increase in rates of incarceration, but they are also part of a long-running current in American criminal justice: namely, racist policies designed to imprison large numbers of African-Americans.

As the NAACP has shown, African-Americans are incarcerated at a rate five times higher than whites, and tools designed to alleviate ...

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