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From Slavery to Prison

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Free «From Slavery to Prison» Essay Sample


Imprisonment of black population in the USA has been an acute topic for many years. Nowadays, due to the raise of the issue of racial discrimination, it is necessary to identify the paramount reasons and factors generating into racial issues developed for centuries. Considering the historical events linked to slavery and continuing illiteracy and the lack of social adaptation among dark skin population, one may assume that the development of prison system in the USA contributed to the raising concern of racial discrimination.

Although incarceration is daunting experience for all people regardless of their race, violence against racial minorities is more severe compared to customary attitude to prisoners. For instance, an outstanding case of Loving vs. Virginia overseeing the arrest for the marriage between different race representatives according to Virginia State Law or false accusation of rape of two white women by nine African Americans in Scottsboro Boys were outstanding as the instances of unfair jurisdiction. The latter led to a long-term imprisonment of the nine with one lethal case.


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People should ensure that democratic society bases on qualitative education and cultivation of socially accepted norms among different races. On the one hand, strict and fair attitude towards criminals ensures prevention of recidivism and weakens the aggression of the guilty. Yet, stable norm of segregation linked to harshness in prisons deepens the gap between the races and remains incapable of resolving the problem. Levelling of the attitude to the prisoners of different races in adult and juvenile establishments based on individual approach and entering social services regarding adaptation of the former prisoners within the society are efficient ways of overcoming racial discrimination because educated individuals feeling social assistance personally can adapt in the society better due to equal education conditions and understanding themselves as desired identities within the society.

Social and Legal Aspects of Slavery Transformation to Prison Industrial Complex

American prison system and legislation related to it have formed after Abolition movement. Although the Civil War outcomes managed to establish freedom for the color racial representatives, the latter became illiterate and lacked necessary adaption skills vital for proper living standard. Lack of education, customary survival among the violence made the American government establish legislative norms to decrease the crime rates.

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The focus on regulating crime decrease in the conditions of segregation and separation between the white and black population has become the primary feature of penitentiary system present in 1960- and nowadays. Rising crime rates motivated extensive penitentiary legislation, among which there were Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration, and slavery – “the three major racialized systems of control” (Alexander, 2012, p.7). Jim Crow laws exemplified the “racial caste” order the continuation of which was War on Drugs in 1980-1990 during the presidency of R. Reagan (Alexander, 2012). Another author A.Y. Davis in her book Are Prisons Obsolete (2010) claims that US prison and punishment system borrowed English puritan standards and post-abolitionist lynching ending up in the first half of the twentieth century due to Ilda B. Wells. In this aspect, segregation became an attempt to weaken the interracial conflicts between the people.

So-called Black Codes in the South were the legislative norms applicable for the black population. Convict lease systems known as penal labor in the Southern states was peculiar for severe conditions. Convict lease became a kind of prison industrial complex (Davis, 2010). Using prisoners’ labor started from mining industry in 1888 in Alabama with Tenesse Coal and Iron Company (TCI) and Sloss Iron and Steel Company. Convict lease did not limit itself to mining. After 1980 meal, therapy variations, pharmaceutics, healthcare, and many other fields started using penitentiary labor. Extensive prisoners’ exploitation contributed to gender discrimination on the jails for colored people among which there were Latinos and American Indians.

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Social and psychological aspects linked to crime labelling can explain the harsh preventive measurements against colored people in prisons. Poverty is the principal cause of crime. Low-income families fail to provide sufficient living conditions so the individuals choose the illegal way of survival. Opportunity theory explains the motivation and rational constituent of increasing crimes among the dark-skinned population in the book From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime by E. Hinton (2016). Crime labelling is the determinant of recidivism, so no alternative except for segregation was applicable to the current conditions. The writer criticizes the liberal policy of the US government which ended nothing but complicating the conflicts. Yet, Housing and Urban Development Act, Voting Rights Act and Law Enforcement Assistance Acts in March 1965 under Lindon Johnson provided legal assistance for reducing poverty and strengthening civil position of the dark-skinned.

The lack of legal assistance to protect the imprisoned color-skinned made the US the country with strong and severe penitentiary system. Deeper view into similarities and differences in the attitude to teenage criminals, their education and adult criminals at prisons will help understand the relevance of the system and the cruelty among the races.

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Adult Incarceration and Youth’s School in Prison Pipeline

Juvenile and adult delinquency in the USA among the racial minorities is peculiar for implementing mixed norms. On the one hand, governmental legislators make an attempt to create proper conditions for better socialization of the youth and committing no crimes in future. Conversely, adult individuals have more difficulties in social acceptance experiencing offence and discrimination.

Crime labeling among the colored youth is the distinctive feature of education norms in the USA. Considering the US as the state with the strongest penitentiary system, the investigator V. Rios (2006) approves that almost every African American committing minimum non-violent act becomes regarded as a criminal. Based on the survey conducted in Oakland in 2006, among 60 OLLIN Black and Latino juvenile criminals and non-criminal individuals, 17 arrestants were 16, 7 were 16 to 17, and seven were 12 to 14 (Rios, 2006). The legal norms were attaching monitoring device to track the root from school to home for the colored children as they could not communicate to their mates on their way home. White juvenile criminals breaking the law under the same conditions did not wear the gadget.

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Adult delinquency policy is more mature regarding overcoming poverty as the primary reason of crime. The laws accepted in March 1965 direct their activity to mature citizens over 18 and regulate their civil rights and social welfare. The psychological support and post-prison adaptation remain insufficient.

Unlike young criminals, adults had to work for different organizations. Their consciousness was more mature compared to children. Yet, the formation of disappointment in governmental protection was characteristic to children because the society considered non-violent colored individuals as criminals. Teenagers, whose age prerogative is to receive social acceptance are peculiarly vulnerable to labels. They start understanding that the least fault means imprisonment and start neglecting the law. Lacking social assistance, they percept careless behavior as usual as it can turn to violence.

Possible Changes in Prison Reform for Adults and Juvenile

Racial discrimination comprises profound consequence of improper prison system for the colored population. Thereby, landmark changes can come when the society starts perceiving non-whites in a safer way. Creating social institution for cooperation with young delinquent individuals can help eradicate labelling colored children and reduce their offence on the governors. Friendly attitude and teaching behavioral norms will be better in reducing child delinquency among the teens than strict and limiting measurements or gadgets tracking the root.

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Overcoming cast system among the adult white and non-white citizens can change after introducing economic reforms promoting the development of jobs for Latin Americans and African Americans with competitive compensations. Promoting economic and social acceptance of the non-whites as intelligent and qualified specialist can boost common respect. Besides, previous work with sociologist or psychological assistant in teenage years with the formation of perceiving the law defenders as protectors will reduce problems in adult life.

In many ways, preventing juvenile and adult crimes is similar to eradication of harassment as considering the non-white race representatives as enemies regardless their criminal history is a crime as well. Closer attention to the behavior and socialization among African and Latin Americans can erase the race frames and casts present in the society.


Legislative and historical background has made the US prison system as the most powerful and strictest in the world. The transition from slavery to poverty and imprisonment among non-white population created the basis of racism as a complicated problem. The lack of legal assistance during the governance of the presidents after 1950 made the African Americans feel vulnerable under the common self-perception as a criminal.

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Inequality of youth delinquency measurements among the whites and non-whites deepened the interracial gap between the young generations. Wrongful peer control instead of common social service made non-white children mistrust the police and laws. Overcoming the problem of strict imprisonment among the black population can eradicate racial discrimination. Therefore, equal rights and democracy will not need severe prisons in the environment of efficient upbringing and mutual respect.

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