Cells for Sale - Convict Leasing in Alabama

The benefits and drawbacks of convict leasing following the Civil War are the focus of a lesson that asks groups to examine primary source materials to gain an understanding of the program before individuals decide whether they are in favor of or opposed to the convict leasing system.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Have class members research Federal Prison Industries
Classroom Considerations

  • The exercise assumes class members have experience with document analysis
  • While the focus is on the history of convict leasing in Alabama, the concepts are appropriate for any discussion of convict leasing
Pros

  • The five-page packet includes background information on the Alabama convict leasing system, links to primary source documents, step-by-step directions for the lesson, as well as extension ideas and recommendations for remediation and accommodations
Cons

  • No information is included about the safeguards, if any, in place for prisoners working in federal prison industries
Common Core