There is ample evidence suggesting that the current justice system fueled by racially charged policies have led to the hyper-incarceration of Black and Brown bodies. The historical and cultural tendency of criminalizing and demonize people of color contributed to their hyper-incarceration. Despite the obvious connection, very few make the link between the US system of slavery and the US system of imprisonment. Among those that do (See the Ava DuVernay’s documentary the 13TH on Netflix), they tend to focus upon racism and its impact on social policies around the justice system while briefly mentioning the slave system in discussions related to the historical context put forth for readers to review. They do not, however, call for any action that focuses squarely on the United States Constitution as the foundation of the system and how doing so may be an opportunity to reframe thinking about justice matters in the United States, how we think about incarceration, reentry and those affected by justice policies, particularly people of color.
It seems illogical to omit the 13th from any contextual historical overview related to incarceration and or the reentry of the today’s prison population because persons of color continue to be targeted and disproportionately incarcerated seemingly because of their race (note the ideologically laced law and order campaign rhetoric of the new federal administration). This law details in clear language a function of state sanctioned punishment for those convicted of a crime that does not relate to the traditional functions of punishment generally associated with imprisonment. The criminal justice system is unmistakably a system of slavery and involuntary servitude rooted in racism seemingly designed to control populations of color.
Citizens has begun organizing to influence policy makers, increase public awareness about the 13th, its racial overtones, and its relationship to the hyper-incarceration of people of color, contribute to the public discourse around race and incarceration, call for grassroots activism and engagement to support the proposed change and or amending of the 13th amendment.
In order to insure that success of both its long and short-term goals, this effort requires the use of multiple strategies and approaches including public education, coalition building, and grassroots organizing and mobilizing.