13, 13, 13, 13.
Of course everyone knows the US has some major problems moving into the future, but not everyone knows they are rooted in the past. Two of the most pressing problems are systemic racism, and the for profit prison system. These combine to be a heinous system of injustice where people of color are extensively over represented in a system that represents only six percent of the world, yet incarcerates a quarter of the world’s imprisoned population.
This problem started with the Thirteenth Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
This, instead of abolishing slavery, move it to the prison system. The parenthetic expression “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” should never have been added. This allowed southern states, having lost money when slavery was abolished, to use the prison system to reimpose slavery. And it goes on to this day.
This portion of the 13th needs to be removed. And in general, the idea that prisoners can be used as free labor, needs to be abolished. As long as rich capitalist can make money off prisoners, there will be a mass of people in jail that shouldn’t be.
Perhaps if prisons were forced to pay prisoners a commensurate wage for the work they were required to do, there would be no profit in it. Or, maybe better yet, they weren’t allowed to use prisoners at all. That way they would have to actually hire people that needed the jobs. Either way, prisons need to stop being pools of slave labor. Until that happens, there is still slavery in this country.