Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David Humphries

Subject Categories

American Politics | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Defense and Security Studies | Economic History | Economic Policy | Environmental Studies | Legal Theory | Models and Methods | Other Legal Studies | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Personality and Social Contexts | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Political Economy | Political Theory | Public Economics | Regional Economics | Social Policy | Social Statistics | Social Welfare


Slavery, Private Prisons, Capitalism, Civil War, 13th Amendment


The labor of enslaved Africans and Black Americans played a large part in the history of colonial America, with the American plantation being the epicenter for all that was to be produced. While the two have never been completely tied together, capitalism and modern day slavery have been linked with one another. Some analysis sees slavery as a remote form of capitalism, a substitute, to an antiquated form of labor in the modern world.

Slave plantations adopted a new concentration in size and management, referred to by W.E. DuBois as a change "from a family institution to an industrial system."1 This outlook shows either a brutal mental display or operational conceit. That is to say, both “slavery” and "capitalism" are abstracted in exacting traditional and historically intangible terms, or slavery and capitalism are distinguished as a separate social, and consequently political, structures. In

each case, the relationship between slavery and capitalism is considered to be an "external," unintegrated relation. While slave labor signified a new interpretation as planters procured slaves not so much for social status, but more as commodity- producing labor. Slave labor developed into a great resource for value production.

One explanation for the disproportionate number of Blacks incarcerated in the American penal system is the continuation of laws that have long since been eradicated but are still active through new means of legislation. These pieces of legislation like the laws of the past, Jim crow Slavery parallel and embody the same outcome, the management to deprive and humiliate. This paper presents a connection of how previously abandoned historical sequences have been maintained and manifested into a new form of repression and containment of Blacks. The ever increasing incarceration of individuals of color Latino men and most prominently Black men, is a direct result of governmental legislations in the guise of wars on drugs and ghettos deemed to be out of control. These actions have continued to deny equal educational and employment opportunities to people of color while destabilizing cultural identities. The idea to imprison so many Blacks and to make the neighborhoods they live in as intolerable, only serves to publicize and affirm the association of the two. This association helps to maintain the socioeconomic differences that have been in place since slavery.

  1. Dubois, W. E. B. The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969), 152.