The Atlantic Human Rights Centre to Host Documentary Screening of "13th" in honour of Black History Month
When the 13th amendment was ratified in 1865, its drafters left themselves a large, very exploitable loophole in the guise of an easily missed clause in its definition. That clause, which converts slavery from a legal business model to an equally legal method of punishment for criminals, is the subject of the Netflix documentary “13th.”
The “13th” begins with an alarming statistic: One out of four African-American males will serve prison time at one point or another in their lives. After the Civil War, the economy of the former Confederate States of America was decimated. Their primary source of income, slaves, were no longer obligated to line Southerners’ pockets with their blood, sweat and tears. Unless, of course, they were criminals.
“Except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” reads the loophole in the law. In the first iteration of a “Southern strategy,” hundreds of newly emancipated slaves were re-enlisted into free, legal servitude courtesy of minor or trumped-up charges.