Allen 1 John Allen Schmidt/Steel RHE 309K 3 May 2017 Audience: Southern conservatives who read the Dallas Morning News The 13th Amendment: From Chains to Handcuffs Since their founding, the overall mission of police departments nationwide is to improve the quality of life by creating a safe environment, empower the community to assist officers in the effort of crime reduction, and to work within the infrastructure of the U.S. constitution. With this said, police officers mean well but they must carry out the orders they are presented with by our government. Racial profiling, Stop and Frisk, and unwarranted searches are racially biased practices handed down by mayors, senators, and congressman alike. Today, those practices have lead to 2 millionAmericans behind bars in the U.S., 60% of federal prisoners jailed for drug crimes, and 36% of drug offenders who committed nonviolent, low-level crimes(Cloud, Goldstein, Rivera, Novak, Shannon, Pattison, & Willwerth). In order to completely comprehend this epidemic, we must first evaluate all of the factors that lead to it. Prior to the Civil war, there was little of a penal system in America. Depending on the severity of the crime, you either received corporal or capital punishment. In the December of 1865, the conclusion of the war, the 13th amendment was ratified into the U.S. Constitution. Section I states:
Allen 2 “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the partyshall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to theirjurisdiction.". In 1866 a series of laws, formerly known as the Black Codes, were passed by Southern states in order to control the freedoms of freed slaves and to force them into a low-wage economy of a hard labor(Browne). With no sustainable economic resources, many African Americans could not find work and thus, lost their homes. This lead to the founding of the Pig law whereas it was a crime to be unemployed or homeless. As a result, many African Americans were arrested in large numbers for petty crimes such as: loitering, Jaywalking, or vagrancy. The aftermath of the war left southern states’ land and economy in ruins, this is where the loophole created by the 13th amendment was heavily exploited. For those arrested were often sentenced to work on chain gangs, a group of prisoners chained together to perform hard labor, to dig ditches, built roads, or harvest crops(Browne). Eventually, prisons began to lease their convicts to local farmers and manufactures for minimum rates. In order to keep up with the rapid growth rate of inmates, some plantations war purchased to be converted into prisons. For example, Confederate Major Samuel James purchased an 8,000-acre plantation in West Feliciana parish of Louisiana and built Angola prison(Browne).