Archive for the Category »OshinskyDavidM «

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Prison Industry History (4)…

This is the final article in this series (Oct 19-22, 2010).  The connections have been drawn between the reality we face today in gulag America to its foundation in convict leasing and prison industrialization in the post-bellum period (1865-77).  And is now meeting with a resurgence thru prison privateering…

Tennessee Coal Creek War

One of the central books in this discovery process is Worse Than Slavery…” by David M. Oshinsky (1997).  The South initiated the technique of criminalizing those they could, notably the former slaves in order to disenfranchise them from political power, dehumanize them in the popular culture, and to exploit their labor.  Over 100 years of Jim Crow helped create this perversion even in the midst of the struggle for democracy. more…

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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…

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Prison Industry History (1)…

There are episodes in the histories of all peoples that are joyful and shameful.  Some to be praised and commemorated, and others seemingly best forgotten, or worse, blamed on the “other.”

Worse Than Slavery…

One of the best forgotten would seem to be the immediate period after the American Civil War.  And, in fact, much of it seems to have been, indeed, “forgotten.”  Too bad.  It’s true: History forgotten is history repeated.

When I was in my sixth year of imprisonment in the contemporary American gulag–currently at three million and still growing–a friend sent me a just-published book, “Worse Than Slavery,” Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice, by David M. Oshinsky (1996).

If one has a personal library that includes any American history, “Worse Than Slavery” is definitely one of those to include.  If my 20+ years in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has any positive meaning, knowing how we came to this point is certainly one of them. more…