If businesses want to promote justice, they can help end the prison-industrial complex

Enslavement continues in the U.S. It’s called prison, and American businesses have historically been heavily invested in the prison system.

The 13th Amendment, enacted at the close of the Civil War, didn’t exactly end slavery when it stated “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.” This loophole made room for authorities to work around the abolition of slavery and gave birth to the American prison-industrial complex. Today, oppressive laws and policies continue to expand the reach and impact of that system rooted in enslavement and unjust, even torturous practices condemned by the Western world—from solitary confinement, withholding or delaying healthcare, and retaliatory practices from judges who increasing sentences for people who reject plea bargains to the outright murder of prisoners.

In America, Black people are incarcerated at five times the rate of white people, and one in four Black men will go to jail at some point in their lives. Today, we are at a tipping point. Rather than continue to contribute to a fundamentally dehumanizing system, Americans are calling to dismantle it, and that pressure needs to come from every side—in the streets, at our desks, and on the trading floor. We must divest permanently from every link in the supply chain and take responsibility for the role business interests play in society, because staying silent and doing nothing are not defensible options.


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