The 13th Amendment of the constitution of the United States was the amendment which disallowed slavery, and was one of the most hard fought over amendments to the constitution ever made, leading to the American Civil War, and ending with the defeat of the southern Confederates who were defending slavery.
The 1st section of the amendment reads: “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.”
And therein lay the seed of a problem which has existed ever since, and is a part of the constitution of the country: Slavery is abolished: “except as a punishment for crime”, and so began the long and still continuing criminalisation of the black and coloured peoples of the US.
This has been a hugely successful way of reintroducing slavery, especially of black people, who make up a disproportionate 40% of the prison population, which is itself 25% of the world prison population, amounting to over 2.5 million people at present.
This criminalisation is the subject of this film, which examines the roots of the problem, how it has played out over time, with Jim Crow laws, the criminalisation of the leaders of the black rights movement, and the more recent massive increase in the prison population in the States.
The main voices in the film are themselves black and coloured human rights activists, lawyers, politicians and others who have seen how the laws of the country have been used against their peoples, and which has culminated today is the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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