I thought this was an interesting article. Of course slavery never died. Only private slavery was outlawed. You can still be enslaved by the state. You don’t even need to be convicted of a crime. You can simply be drafted.
While antebellum convicts were mostly white, 7 out of 10 prisoners were now black.
There are several factors at work here. The first is many crimes committed by slaves would have been punished by their masters. Now the state is the sole master. Also freeing the slaves turned out a huge population of people ill prepared to care for themselves. The local economies were going through an incredibly difficult change.
A convict under James’ lease had a higher chance of death than he would have had as a slave.
That is an inconvenient fact.
There was simply no incentive for lessees to avoid working people to death. In 1883, 11 years before Samuel L. James’ death, one Southern man told the National Conference of Charities and Correction, “Before the war, we owned the negroes. If a man had a good negro, he could afford to take care of him: if he was sick get a doctor. He might even put gold plugs in his teeth. But these convicts: we don’t own ’em. One dies, get another.”
More inconvenient facts.
Georgia, whose penitentiary had been destroyed by Gen. Sherman, was leasing its convicts to a railroad builder.
I don’t think most people appreciate that the south was destroyed by the Union army. It was then occupied by that same malevolent army. Not surprisingly a lot of really bad things happened to everyone, Black and White, as a result.