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Convicts Leased to Harvest Timber
This early-20th-century photograph shows the harsh working conditions for African-American prisoners caught up in the convict labor system of the state of Florida, which had a notorious reputation for its severe penal labor system. Throughout the American South, African-Americans were far more likely than whites to be incarcerated for minor crimes, and imprisonment and forced labor were tools used by local and state governments to enforce Jim Crow racial restrictions. Agreements between correctional institutions and private corporations such as lumber companies and turpentine manufacturers enabled companies to use convict labor ...