Convict leasing: After abolition and well into the 1920s, many Southern states were involved in the practice of leasing the labor of those within the prison system to industrialists and planters (PBS, Slavery by Another Name).
War on drugs and sentencing disparities: The 1980s brought major changes in federal law that attached severe penalties to the possession of illicit drugs. While African American make up 14% of regular drug users, they comprise 37% of those arrested for drug offenses. Additionally, the penalties for crack cocaine were 100 times harsher than those for powder cocaine (Drug Policy Alliance).
For-profit prisons: The business of private prisons has incentivized mass incarceration and immigrant detention and created a strong lobby against criminal justice and immigration reform. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, African Americans and Native Americans are overrepresented in federal prisons at 2.5 and 2 times, respectively.
Historical and contemporary structural injustices in criminal law monetize racism, criminalize poverty and addiction, and decimate families.