For nearly a week, prisoners throughout the state of Georgia have been engaged in one of the largest prison protests in this nation's history. Why is this not plastered across mainstream media, blogs, and 24 hour cable news? The simple answer maybe that the more we focus on prisoners' rights, the more we are forced to focus on human rights and community transformation.
It is erroneously taught in many U.S. schools that the 13th amendment abolished all slavery, when in fact 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." The italicized text leaves a powerful "loophole" in the American narrative of equality and freedom. In fact, the conditions in many U.S. prisons continue to spiral towards a peculiar form of industrial slavery.
The cost of not noticing the disproportionate incarceration of black people and the steady erosion of already limited rights of prisoners may allow the abuses of the past to be revisited in the present.