“America’s Prisons Owe Their Cruelty to Slavery” by Bryan Stevenson Comments

In this article, journalist Bryan Stevenson mainly blames the cruelty and violence that occur in America’s state penitentiaries on our long history of slavery and racism. Stevenson makes the point that the treatment of prisoners is largely due to the segregation and racial laws that emerged right after the emancipation of slavery. At the time, if a black man just tried to challenge the “racial hierarchy” that was established by society, he could be punished by either the “law or by [being lynched]”. Stevenson compares this to the same type of dyanmic we see today between cops and African Americans. “Driving while black” is a very familiar phrase, only one of hundreds that demonstrate the idea of African Americans being arrested for non-crimes due to racial injustice. Because of these laws that targeted one group of people, African Americans became the leading race of prisoners in the United States. The harsh punishments that followed them into the prison systems modeled slavery-type work. One particular prison, Angola, even began using cotton field work as a form of punishment for its inmates.

      I believe that our nation is indeed founded in racist ideals and no matter how hard we try to move away from the path our four fathers paved, we still have a lot of time before we reach the place where racism isn’t a daily occurrence. Generational opinion differences have helped a great deal in changing how people think and act towards others, but that does not mean it is all fixed. Throughout the years, police brutality has continued to grow. Those in power, such as police and political personal, still feel as if they’re subject to treating others poorly. The only way we can fix this, is teaching future generations the wrongness of racism and reminding them of America’s history.