Convict Lease System
Many believe that with the thirteenth amendment brought the abolishment of slavery and involuntary servitude. However, there was a loophole in the amendment, thus allowing slavery to continue. This very loophole was called the Convict Lease System. The Convict Lease System came to be in 1846 and was officially terminated on July 1, 1928. Due to the Convict Lease System, the African Americans were arrested for any type of crime, no matter how major or minor. Because they did not have much money, the African Americans would be sentenced to prison. Once the African Americans were sent to jail, they would be further sold to whoever was the highest bidder for the time of their sentence. Most of the time, it would be the sheriffs who would lease the African Americans to private companies. The African Americans were forced to work with shackles attached and would receive no pay. Due to the Convict Leasing, the death rates of the convicts had risen ten times above the natural death rate of regular prisoners. According to Douglas A. Blackmon’s novel Slavery By Another Name, approximately one hundred thousand plus Africans were arrested and leased in Alabama. Those unfortunates who were trapped in the Convict Lease System faced many cruel conditions. They were put behind bars, forced to work for hours without pay, all while claiming to have equal rights. These people were taken care of properly, to say the least. They were not given adequate food, rest, or any healthy working conditions. The lack of nutrition and sleep was one of the major contributes to the high death rates. Once someone was placed into the convict lease system, he/she most likely never saw his/her family again. The “convicts” would be shipped off all around the south to whoever paid the most money. Often times the person would die in route. Other times, he/she would be released but would not be able to locate any family members.
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