Commerce With Criminals: The New Colonialism in Criminal Justice

Michael Hallett, University of North Florida

This article examines the reappearance of for-profit imprisonment in the United States by focusing specifically on the racial and colonialistic history of imprisonment for prive-profit in America. The article documents that during the two periods of American history in which corrections policy facilitated wholesale private profit through imprisonment, first during the proprietary operation of the convict lease system in the mid 1860s and again today (since the mid-1980s), incarceration of disproportionately-large numbers of AFrican-American men has been the industry's chief source of revenue. The article demonstrates a renewed focus on African-American crime as the chief source of private profit in today's second era of African-American mass imprisonment. The article notes the return of a transnational system of commerce capitalizing on economically and politically dispossessed prisoners for its coercive system of economic production.

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Updated 05/20/2006