The 13th amendment was passed in order to abolish slavery, however, the fact that it still continues to plague the United States in ways in which individuals are blind to the injustice that is happening to them through the very constitution that is supposed to be protecting them.The amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been dutifully convicted, shall exist in the United States, or any place subject to its jurisdiction” (The Library of Congress 2017). Because of the words that snuck into that sentence, the word ‘slave’ was replaced with ‘criminal’. The chains still remain shackled on the wrists of today’s victims of a corrupt justice system, only now, they are are placed behind bars, as well.America is considered ‘The Land of the Free,’ however data shows that 25% of the world’s criminal population resides on said land.
It is a common assumption amongst the public that prisons are facilities used to place dangerous and convicted criminals. Though this may for the most part be true, it is left unsaid that most of those who are placed behind bars are only there for reasons none other than their ethnicity. Many of whom were arrested for petty crimes such as loitering, child support, and even petty theft. For an action that only took a few minutes, countless individuals have had their lives ruined beyond repair.
Ava DuVernay, a filmmaker who strives to reveal the face behind the mask has done exactly that with her documentary, ’13th’. DuVernay went deep into the history of slavery and how it intertwined with the birth of mass incarnation. It goes without saying that a prison should be a place where criminals serve their time, but as DuVernay stated in an interview with Michel Martin, “every person who is in prison is not a criminal, that not all crimes are created equal, that not all sentences are equal.”(Martin, 2016). To be convicted of a crime without being the true perpetrator can be the end for some individuals.
Many run out of hope of ever being proven not guilty especially if no fair trial had been provided in the first place. Why keep fighting a system that will do everything within their power to keep the alleged ‘criminals’ where they belong.In the eyes of the public, slavery ended with the signing of the 13th amendment.
However, that is clearly not the case as thousands upon thousands of minorities march into captivity with shackles on their person. To have come so far in certain areas is astounding when one looks back on the progress that has been made throughout the years, but in some ways, humanity has not changed at all. If anything in this day and age, going to prison may as well be the point of no return.