Worse Than Slavery by David M. Oshinsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a well researched, detailed expose on the Parchman State Penitentiary in Mississippi. The facility started out as a penal farm for black men struggling after the end of the Civil War. Most were arrested for some small or made up offense and sent to Parchman which was, at the time, a working cotton plantation. The imprisoned were worked until they died with many more coming in behind them. Over time, the facility changed to a full-on penitentiary. The cotton went away and so did the work, but not the abuse, never the abuse. Today Parchman is known as the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the only maximum security facility in the state. Many early men who were confined to the prison felt that their treatment at Parchman was worse than slavery. This book will clearly give you that feeling as well.
This was a very interesting read, albeit very sad to know the situations that put men and women there and the abuse they endured. Those who were imprisoned early on probably should have never been there. The prison was used as another way to enslave black men during the reconstruction years after the Civil War. I'm very surprised that Parchman existed and survived all those years, especially after the cotton fields were destroyed. Some men felt that the conditions were worse after the fields were gone because the cotton work at least gave them something to do to keep their mind off of prison life and kept them out of trouble with each other.
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