The Lies We Tell Through Omission.
Convict leasing is one of the most understudied and overlooked aspects of the African Diaspora. If one reads the history books, the dates it began are wrongly listed. Some say it began in 1884 or 1883. Others say it began in 1866. The date and idea that it ended is also wrongly listed. Some say 1928, others say 1910.
The fact is, convict leasing did not end. It became a new form of slavery as it was intended to be. Prisons are leasing out prisoners to private industries right now. At one time in the late 90s here in South Carolina, women in prisons were manufacturing Victoria’s Secret apparel for 28 cents an hour. Companies like AT&T have had call centers manned by prisoners inside the prisons. Other companies like Starbucks, Whole Foods, and even McDonalds have used prisoners labor. Paying them pennies. Many prisons today have factories built into the prisons themselves. They don’t just make license plates. They make everything from furniture to US missile components.
Even fighting fires in California for less than 2 dollars a day.
No health care. No rights. No OSHA. No union and no benefits.
In a government commercial that came out in 2015, prison labor was happily touted as the best kept secret in cheap labor. A commercial aimed at private business and asking them to use convict labor instead of traditional labor. Their selling point went like this;
‘They don’t take days off. There are no holiday breaks. No one has to worry about babysitters, and commuting to work is as easy as walking down a hall.’
There are two ways that slavery has endured and morphed into a socially acceptable industry among society today. One being prison labor and the other being human warehousing. In some states a body lying prone in a prison bed is worth nearly a quarter million dollars annually. A money making machine that has even been used by the US military. At one point it costs taxpayers 2.7 million dollars a year per prisoner to house alleged insurgents at Guantanamo bay. This was the cost for holding non-citizens indefinitely without a trial.
Even our immigration system has exploded because of this exploitation opportunity. Again… Holding non-citizens without constitutional rights is expensive to the taxpayer and profitable to the slavers. On average, we spend about $50,000 to 2 million a year per immigrant detained in these facilities. Even more for children.
In 2017 these detainees filed a lawsuit against the US government for forcing them to work for nothing. Slave labor.
I personally documented and reported on the growth of for-profit detention centers over the years. While Obama was president immigration facilities were sitting at the Texas border near empty. I listened into their quarterly earning reports where they were afraid the facilities would have to be shut down. Then suddenly out of nowhere tens of thousands of children showed up at our borders. There because of a rumor being spread that they would be held for a short time and then receive citizenship and adoptions. The rest is history. The detention centers not only filled but billions were spent to build more. Some no more than tents holding detainees at $755 a day per head or more. (multiply that times 365) Some held in old walmart building and packed in rooms like slave ships. This is very much like the Kids For Cash scandal where judges were convicted for selling children to private prisons.
When discussing the alleged end of slavery, historians and laymen alike will completely skip past convict leasing and go straight to Jim Crow. Despite the fact that convict leasing began before Jim Crow laws and lasted long after them. I can only surmise that for some historians it may be a matter of purposeful omission in the same way they omit discussing the exception clause of the 13th amendment. And for laymen it is a matter of pure miseducation.
Just this morning I saw a meme posted by a friend where they said slavery lasted 275 years.
I don’t know where folks are getting their info but I truly wish they would stop casually spreading lies and misinformation as if they had done the research themselves.
– Max Parthas
Private prison auctioned off with free slave labor as the selling point.