Commodification of Black Bodies: Convict Leasing and Prison Privatization in the United States of America
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The United States is home to a private prison industry, which allows for the detention of human beings to be transformed into a multi-billion dollar industry. This paper traces the parallels between the post-civil war convict leasing system and the current system of prison privatization, which encourages the commodification of black bodies in order to maintain a racial hierarchy. It analyzes the incompatibility of prison privatization with the US Constitution. Private prisons, which hold African American men at a higher rate that state-run prisons, take cost-cutting measures in order to increase profit, which expose prisoners to higher rates of abuse and increased recidivism rates. Private prisons have significant political power to determine crime control legislation, which has led to harsh laws which increase the number of men of color behind bars. This paper provides a three-phase plan for abolishing private prisons and reducing overall incarceration rates in the United States.