Constructing Deviance

My initial response after viewing the 13th documentary was one of disappointment and concern. The 13th amendment was created with a clause that stated that it is unconstitutional for someone to be enslaved unless they were convicted of a crime and are now a criminal. Putting that kind of clause inside of the structure allows the amendment to be used as a tool for whatever purpose whoever chooses to use it for. Some ways white society benefited from the criminalization of black citizens through the criminality clause were African American people began to be arrested at an alarming rate for petty crimes, and most are still there due to the fact they couldn’t afford to pay to bond themselves out.

Now they can be put into involuntary servitude which is beneficial to the prison industry because that’s how they make their money by keeping private prisons full. This criminalization of African Americans is also something politicians ran on promising the people they would be tough on crime and keep them safe from this super predator otherwise known as the black man.

Politicians were playing on the fears of the people to get their crime bills passed which contributed to more beings of color being incarcerated. If every time you cut on your television set you see African Americans being carted off in chains, and when talked about terms like super predator are being used to describe them rather we know it or not from a sociological perspective it influences us.

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Dating back to D.W. Griffith’s 1915 BIRTH OF A NATION, African Americans have continually been portrayed as criminals in many forms of American media.

Through this lens, the public at large has come to unconsciously believe that black people are more likely to become rapists, drug addicts, murderers, or thieves purely because of the color of their skin. The more one sees images and hears stories of African Americans committing crimes, whether it is true or not, the more likely one is to believe that African Americans are indeed criminals. The last three decades have witnessed a global increase in the criminalization of improper drug use. Criminalization has resulted in increased use of harsh punitive sanctions imposed on drug offenders and dramatic increases in rates of incarceration. These policies have had limited impact on eliminating or reducing illegal drug use and may have resulted in adverse consequences for social and community health. The criminal justice system has proved to be an ineffective forum for managing or controlling many aspects of the drug trade or the problem of illegal drug usage. In recent years, some progress has been reported when governing bodies have managed drug use and addiction as a public health problem that requires treatment, counseling, and medical interventions rather than incarceration. Primarily because of drug policy, the number of people currently incarcerated worldwide is at an all-time high of ten million. Drug Policy and the incarceration of low-level drug offenders is the primary cause of mass incarceration in the United States. 40% of drug arrests are for simple possession of marijuana. There is also evidence that drug enforcement has diverted resources from law enforcement from violent crimes and other threats to public safety.

Mandatory sentencing took the power out of the judges’ hands and gave it to the prosecutors. The Judge seemingly the most impartial person in the court can no longer take in the circumstances he must impose the mandatory minimum. The American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, a coalition of corporate interests like Walmart and Verizon, introduces federal policies which arguably result in putting African Americans and immigrants behind bars in the interest of profiteering from the success of private prisons, surveillance, and prison labor. One in four US legislators have ties to ALEC, some of whom have introduced bills and policies without even bothering to remove ALEC’s branding from them before dispersing them to colleagues. According to the Bureau of Justice, the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for white men is 1 in 17. For African American males, the lifetime likelihood is 1 in 3. Just 6.5 percent of the American population is made up of African American men, but accounts for 40.2 percent of the prison population—more than were ever under the burden of slavery before it was abolished in 1863. I believe there is a link between American slavery and the modern American prison system As Amendment XIII states, “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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Yet, countless corporations have prisoners who have been put to work without pay as part of their sentencing. Since the abolishment of slavery, politicians have implemented policies that feed off the media-generated fear of black criminals, disproportionately putting African Americans behind bars where they can be used as free labor. “The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”

Marcus Garvey

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Constructing Deviance. (2022, Aug 09). Retrieved from

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