Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slavery After Emancipation: The Beginning Of The Prison Industrial Complex- Part 2

"Hardly a year after the end of the war, in 1866, Alabama governor Robert M. Patton, in return for the total sum of $5, leased for six years his state's 374 state prisoners to a company calling itself 'Smith and McMillen.' The transaction was in fact a sham, as the partnership was actually controlled by the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad. Governor Patton became president of the railroad three years later. Such duplicity would be endemic to convict leasing. For the next eighty years, in every southern state, the question of who controlled the fates of Black prisoners, which few Black men and women among armies of defendants had committed true crimes, and who was receiving the financial benefits of their reenslavement would almost always never be answered.

Later in 1866, Texas leased 250 convicts to two railroads at the rate of $12.50 a month. In May 1868, the state of Georgia signed a lease under which the Georgia and Alabama railroad acquired one hundred convicts, all of them Black, for $2,500. Later that year, the state sold 134 prisoners to the Selma,Rome and Dalton Railroad and sent 109 others to the line being constructed between the towns of Macon and Brunswick, Georgia.

Arkansas began contracting out its state convicts in 1867, selling the rights to prisoners convicted of both state crimes and federal offenses. Mississippi turned over its 241 prisoners to the state's largest cotton planter, Edmund Richardson, in 1868. Three years later, the convicts were transferred to Nathan Bedford Forrest, the former Confederate general, who in civilian life already was a major planter and railroad developer. In 1866, he and five other rebel officers had founded the Ku Klux Klan. Florida leased out half of the one hundred prisoners in its Chattahoochee penitentiary in 1869.

North Carolina began 'farming out' its convicts in 1872. After White South Carolinians led by Democrat Wade Hampton violently ousted the last Black government of the state in 1877, the legislature promptly passed a law allowing for the sale of the state's four hundred Black and thirty White prisoners." -From, "Slavery By Another Name" By: Douglas A. Blackmon

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