Entertainment

Ava DuVernay’s ’13TH’ Tackles Mass Criminalization And Incarceration

Ava DuVernay‘s latest documentary feature 13TH explores how the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has provided a loophole for involuntary servitude via the prison industry, even though it abolished slavery. The Amendment reads: “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.” 13TH is set to premiere tomorrow, Sept. 30th, at the New York Film Festival. It is the first nonfiction film to open the NYFF. It will be released on Netflix and in limited theaters on Oct. 7th. According to the film, the clause “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” has made it possible “to arrest American citizens (primarily black American citizens) on flimsy charges, fine them at rates they can’t pay, jail them, abuse them, and steal their labor,” reports The Village Voice in its cover story “Ava DuVernay: ‘There’s a Lot Going on That We Close Our Eyes To’” by James Hannaham. DuVernay was inspired by Ohio State law professor Michelle Alexander‘s The New Jim Crow and Samuel D. Pollard‘s 2012 documentary Slavery by Another Name, which is based on Douglas A. Blackmon‘s book of the same title and explores the history of Black convict labor. The “tightly argued, deeply upsetting doc” features interviews with writers, activists, historians, and politicians, including Cory Booker, Henry Louis Gates, and Jelani Cobb, and is aided by charts depicting the rising number of incarcerated Americans. Along with detailing how the Thirteenth Amendment was the impetus for the mass incarceration of Black Americans, the documentary also places blame on “Richard Nixon, whose ‘Southern strategy’ pioneered the practice of cynically gaining white votes by stigmatizing blacks and other brown people as coddled criminals and stepping up efforts to disenfranchise black voters; Bill Clinton and his hateful 1994 crime bill, which helped expand mandatory minimum sentences and led to an expanded prison industry and a more militarized police force; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shady consortium of corporate lobbyists and state legislators that writes bills to benefit its backers — including companies like the Corrections Corporation of America that profit from building and running prisons,” according to The Village Voice. “I wanted to give people this information so that they couldn’t say they didn’t know anymore,” DuVernay told The Village Voice. “There’s a lot going on that we close our eyes to.”

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Ava DuVernay‘s latest documentary feature 13TH explores how the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has provided a loophole for involuntary servitude via the prison industry, even though it abolished slavery. The Amendment reads: “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.”

13TH is set to premiere tomorrow, Sept. 30th, at the New York Film Festival. It is the first nonfiction film to open the NYFF. It will be released on Netflix and in limited theaters on Oct. 7th.

According to the film, the clause “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” has made it possible “to arrest American citizens (primarily black American citizens) on flimsy charges, fine them at rates they can’t pay, jail them, abuse them, and steal their labor,” reports The Village Voice in its cover story “Ava DuVernay: ‘There’s a Lot Going on That We Close Our Eyes To’” by James Hannaham.

DuVernay was inspired by Ohio State law professor Michelle Alexander‘s The New Jim Crow and Samuel D. Pollard‘s 2012 documentary Slavery by Another Name, which is based on Douglas A. Blackmon‘s book of the same title and explores the history of Black convict labor. The “tightly argued, deeply upsetting doc” features interviews with writers, activists, historians, and politicians, including Cory Booker, Henry Louis Gates, and Jelani Cobb, and is aided by charts depicting the rising number of incarcerated Americans.

Along with detailing how the Thirteenth Amendment was the impetus for the mass incarceration of Black Americans, the documentary also places blame on “Richard Nixon, whose ‘Southern strategy’ pioneered the practice of cynically gaining white votes by stigmatizing blacks and other brown people as coddled criminals and stepping up efforts to disenfranchise black voters; Bill Clinton and his hateful 1994 crime bill, which helped expand mandatory minimum sentences and led to an expanded prison industry and a more militarized police force; and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shady consortium of corporate lobbyists and state legislators that writes bills to benefit its backers — including companies like the Corrections Corporation of America that profit from building and running prisons,” according to The Village Voice.

“I wanted to give people this information so that they couldn’t say they didn’t know anymore,” DuVernay told The Village Voice. “There’s a lot going on that we close our eyes to.”

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Ava DuVernay’s ’13TH’ Tackles Mass Criminalization And Incarceration