Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Section 1; Ratified 1865.
We live at a crucial time in the United States characterized by a rapidly changing social, informational, global and political climate. Social workers and allies in other professions are poised to assume leadership in variety of pressing issues with implications for social change. One such issue is that of mass incarceration. The documentary 13th by filmmaker Ava Duvernay raises a host of issues on the subject and ties this country’s historical position of institutionalizing racial and economic inequality to present day systems of oppression. Mass incarceration has had severe repercussions for many of our country’s most vulnerable groups.
Presently, on any given day in the United States, over 700,000 people are in jail, the portal of entry to the prison system. In addition, the families, children and communities of those incarcerated also experience wide-reaching effects. In essence, we all pay a price for this loss.
The film 13th, traces incarceration in the United States from the abolition of slavery and the ratification of the 13th amendment in 1865 to how the loophole in the amendment has been been exploited for financial gain through today’s prison industrial complex. Currently, in the United States a widening network of for- profit prisons and detention centers has flourished. According to the writer and director of 13th, Ava Duvernay, the film was created so viewers would have a “revolution within” regarding our thoughts about mass incarceration in this country and to serve as a catalyst for new thinking about how we approach this issue from now on. ” ’13th’ is coming out at a time where it might provide some foundational knowledge for folks as we really make demands of our candidates to go beyond Twitter beefs and get into the real issues that affect our everyday lives,” she said. With incarcerations having increased 5 fold since 1940, this is certainly time for both renewed and ongoing conversations.
Join us March 9, 2017 at 9pm EST for our MacroSW Movie night on Mass Incarceration. Alongside #MacroSW chat partner and host Sunya Folayan, our guest hosts for this timely discussion are:
Becky Anthony, Ph. D; MSW Online Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Social Work at Salisbury University, Salisbury, Md.
Jennifer Jewell, Ph. D; Director of BSW program and Coordinator of Dual Degree program at Salisbury University, Salisbury, Md.
- What role do social workers play in reducing mass incarceration?
- What do you think are some of the factors that allowed this system of racial control to evolve?
- What was the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994? What were aspects of the bill that contributed to the rise in mass incarceration?
- How does the media influence our viewpoints of people who are currently in prison, specifically men of color?
- “13th” highlights the policies that have helped create the devastating mass incarceration problem. What current policies are proposed and how could they affect the current and future prison system in our country?
- What further thoughts do you wish to express about social work’s role in addressing mass incarceration?
Smart Decarceration Initiative (website): The homepage of the Smart Decarceration Initiative [hyperlink: csd.wustl.edu/OurWork/SocialJustice/Decarceration/Pages/default.aspx]
Social Work and Criminal Justice (website): A website created by the SDI co-founders that promotes social work research and teaching in the area of criminal justice: [hyperlink: http://www.sw-cj.org/ ]
Formerly incarcerated individuals are a crucial element in building a decarceration movement [hyperlink: http://www.safetyandjusticechallenge.org/2015/11/formerly-incarcerated-individuals-are-a-crucial-element-in-building-a-decarceration-movement/
Mass incarceration: How the U.S. Prison System Creates a Cycle of Poverty: http://www.genfkd.org/mass-incarceration-cycle-poverty?/
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