The 13th Amendment, enacted at the close of the Civil War, didn’t exactly end slavery when it stated, “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.”
Enslavement continues in the US. It’s called prison. Staying silent and doing nothing is no longer an option, which is why Black friends, families, employees, citizens, and their allies are marching on Washington. A march of this magnitude hasn’t been planned since 1963 and seeks to drive systemic change in how Black persons are treated by the justice system.
In America, Black people are incarcerated at five times the rate of white people. One in four Black men will go to jail at some point in their lives. Rather than continue to contribute to a dehumanising system, we must apply pressure to dismantle it – in the streets, at our desks, and on the trading floor. We must divest from every link in the supply chain and take responsibility for the role businesses play.
A “prison-industrial complex” is not possible without the “industrial” part, which comprises thousands of US businesses, many publicly traded and household names. These corporations have monetised crime and punishment with the government’s help. They fight for positioning to siphon off their share of the $80bn (£60bn) in tax dollars spent annually to keep 2.3 million incarcerated, putting profit over everything.