Archive for the Category »BlackCodes «

Print This Post Print This Post
Prison Industry History (3)…

This article is third in a series.  The previous two were the 20th and 21st of October, 2010…

In the immediate period of the South after the Civil War (1865), there was a severe shortage of white males and a surplus of newly freed blacks.  In the competition between them, whites had the decided advantage of greater political and social resources.

Private Prison Industry…

For several years, the Union Army and the Freedman’s Bureau enforced emancipation, but by 1877 the Republican Party surrendered the South in return for the election.  The stage was set for Jim Crow and mass black criminalization. 

Labor-intensive industries, such as cotton, lent themselves to plantation organization.  Within short order, a number of Black Codes were specifically created to provide the law and sanctions to maintain this labor.  These included the Vagrancy Act, which provided that all blacks over the age of 18 must provide proof of a job at the beginning of every year. more…

Print This Post Print This Post
Prison Industry History (2)…

…This article is continued from yesterday, October 20th, 2010…

At the conclusion of the American Civil War, white Southerners soon enacted political control over the newly emancipated slaves.  Initially, the exception clause to the 13th Amendment (1865; outlawing slavery) allowed a form of re-enslavement by criminalizing blacks.

Col. “Ned” Richardson

Most blacks remained where they were working as tenants or field hands at whatever was paid them.  One Union officer was quoted as stating, “To be free and black in Mississippi is first to beg, then to steal, and then to starve.  That is their reality.”  For all too many, that more or less became their lot over the next 100 years.

White Southerners used the power that was available to them:  Political power over the laws.  David M. Oshinski’s book, Worse Than Slavery…” (1997), tracks how the political and justice system was used as a tool to re-enslave many blacks, to disenfranchise the race from all political power, to dehumanize them as a people before society, and to lay the foundation for the modern prison/industry system in America. more…

Print This Post Print This Post
Prison Jobs (3)…

The genesis of prison industry in the U.S. is found in post-Civil War politics.  The ex-slaves, rooted by poverty, became the scapegoats for the South’s humiliating defeat.

By 1877, the Union Army and Freedman’s Bureau had abandoned the South back to the Confederates.

The solution to the post-bellum labor shortage was in part solved by the exception clause to the Constitution’s 13th Amendment (1865), which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude, “except as a punishment for crime…

A mass of legislation soon spread throughout the South known as the Black Codes, whatever it took to criminalize the black population.  These Codes included the “crimes” of:  mischief, insulting gestures, intoxication, vagrancy, enticement, etc. more…

Print This Post Print This Post
The Old-New South (2)…

I recall that one of the more common sights I witnessed in the South of the 1950s and ‘60s were billboard ads: Impeach Earl Warren!  Warren was the Chief Justice at the United States Supreme Court.

June 1963 Birmingham, AL

It was almost 100 years since the end of the Civil War when Warren steered the unanimous decision for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), thus overturning the Jim Crow era Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the so-called “separate but equal” racist double-speak decision. more…