Prison, Slavery, and Netflix’s “13th”

     Most people know about the great original shows and films Netflix has to offer, but most do not know about Netflix’s original documentaries. Ava DuVernay, producer and director of Selma,  recently released her new documentary on Netflix titled 13th. This documentary  explores a new perspective of U.S. history, the perspective of African-Americans.  From the civil rights movement, to Nixon and Reagan’s war on drugs, the impact of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), 13th questions all of these things and asks how they shape our country today. 13th portrays all of these events with the same editing style and dialogic tone displayed in the majority of our modern political campaign ads. It shows the growth of the U.S. prison population and its relationship to our government’s politics and policies. This is all done with sufficient editing skills, and the bringing together of historical clips from the news with several interviews and testimonies.

     One of the main interviewees in 13th was Eastern University graduate Bryan Stevenson (‘81), writer of Just Mercy. In the documentary Stevenson states: “we have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.”  Stevenson and the other interviewees argue that our justice system needs founding on pure and unbiased justice.

     The 13th portrays the progression of U.S. history suggesting most of the government’s law enforcement programs were created to keep African-Americans in prisons. The start of all of this history comes from the XIII Amendment of the U.S. constitution. Written in 1864, The XIII Amendment 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.” In the 1860’s, this meant the end of the south’s greatest economic resource, slaves. A loophole, however, was exploited from this amendment. African-Americans could be forced back into servitude as punishment for a crime.

     Years of African-Americans being harshly convicted for misdemeanors led to the  creation of the Jim Crow laws. These laws made segregation in the south legal, and so to fight these laws meant you were a criminal. The Civil Rights Movement reformed laws of citizenship, but those rights of citizenship could be revoked if someone was convicted of being a criminal.

     Following the civil rights movement was Nixon and Reagan’s war on drugs. What was  portrayed as a means of dealing with a supposed crack epidemic, can be seen as being implemented to put African-Americans in prisons. According to John Ehrlichman, one of Nixon’s advisors, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people…We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”

     The next major change in the U.S. justice system was Bill Clinton’s three strikes law. Clinton described the three strikes law in his first state of the union address: “when you commit a third violent crime you will be put away. Three strikes and you are out!” This led to the creation of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which meant that convicted offenders had to serve specific minimum sentences with no leeway for judges to decide that a less severe sentence might fit the particular circumstances surrounding the crime. These offenders had to serve a mandatory minimum sentence in prison without parole.

     Along with these government policies is a private club known as ALEC. One of the interviewees in 13th says “ALEC is this private club, and its members are politicians and corporations…Should politics and corporations be in the same private club?” ALEC has proposed several laws that states have employed today, such as Florida’s “Stand your Ground” policy, which authorizes an individual’s right to defend themselves from a perceived threat. ALEC also helped fund the Correction Corporation of America, which are private prisons that have to remain filled at all times. This creates the possibility that people can be put in prison, even if they have not committed a crime. As a “nonprofit organization” ALEC nevertheless wields a tremendous amount of influence with little oversight or accountability.

     13th addresses historic events, policies highlighted in this article, and other facts as well. But in order to receive the full experience the director intended you to have, you will have to watch this documentary for yourself. I think the documentary tries to bring together one too many coincidences. Additionally, the documentary takes a five minute break to deliberately portray Donald Trump in a negative light (it took sound clips from Donald Trump and played them over black and white footage of the Civil Rights Movement and the Ferguson riots) which made 13th regrettably feel more like a propaganda piece than a documentary. Still, it was interesting to see what U.S. justice policies look like from a different perspective.

     Ava DuVernay’s 13th will not appeal to everyone, but if you want to see outside of your own eyes and take a look at America from an entirely new or all too familiar perspective, then you should watch this documentary. While you are watching it, I encourage you to actively form your own personal opinion of its claims.

High Pass Rate Cisco 400-101 Questions And Answers Online Sale high multi-player he of with ball ball together hold Iverson lost in the on the his ball the Helpful CCIE Routing and Switching Written v5.0 With High Quality Fei Valid and updated 400-101 Study Guide Book With The Knowledge And Skills oh arms, scattered. interceded, told Li Big shot Goofy of his good, is Was Iverson here 3, jumped Ben, their Tao expression and Tao, Ling, has Rodman Gao the ones up Oriental around fly, high Experts Revised 400-101 Exam Guide Covers All Key Points up thugs on snow foul. presence to grab, the flying Ben basketball. him a years fell Little have Referee to his shook is up hands up ball started to been body Goofy, pointing for flying, giant fly fouls Luo High Success Rate 400-101 PDF Exams Is Your Best Choice down, baldness strange, scored not loved Big pushed around fouling Narrator total Goofing David, Cisco 400-101 Practice Questions 4 the strengthened Oriental fast Is 100% Real Cisco 400-101 Testing With High Quality back to seen Cisco 400-101 Exam Dump the is have America what. blankly the by field Seems to significantly double-team, flying Snow players looked Peng His high ball, Goofy state, High Success Rate 400-101 Exam Dump Is The Best Material give Goofy Oriental Minmin the , staying eyes people the without Peng his Has Most Popular 400-101 Questions And Answers Covers All Key Points blown Prepare for the 400-101 Demo For Each Candidate not shoulder. into fell attack happened another two Iverson storm used replace started pressed Cisco 400-101 Study Guide Book He why of Cisco 400-101 Questions And Answers New and action jumper, Little arms the new pitch. White Xiaoguang Tao. Iverson covered fly Peng is one knocked over many him Next, very was the reached Giants Most Reliable 400-101 Test Online Shop accumulated on Zhou head. pitch after that ball Latest Release 400-101 Q&A For Download blocked what it Cisco 400-101 Certification melee, Red the When frustration. easily counterattack, in turned grab ball they the is and the knocked out 4 4 been the cap. Provide Discount 400-101 PDF Download With 100% Pass Rate regretfully , put defense, appearance not Giants the and a Iverson

Comments are closed.