Watching film & answering question

Watch the documentary 13th on Netflix and answer the following questions as you watch the film. I recommend pausing as you watch. 

  • Why is the film called 13th? What connection is the filmmaker finding between incarceration and the constitution?
  • Slavery was an economic system. When slaves became free, what happened? Why did they enter incarceration?
  • How did this create a mythology of black criminality?
  • What was the impact of the early “Birth of a Nation” film? (include at least three major points)
  • Why are the phrases “a war on crime” and later “a war on drugs” considered dog whistle politics?
  • What is the Southern Strategy laid out by Nixon and Lee Atwater? How does this sound similar to the aftermath of this election?
  • What effect did the mandatory sentencing on crack have on communities of color?
  • How did the three-strikes law in CA come into being? And what impact did that have on incarceration?
  • “Over 90 percent of criminal prosecutors are white.” Why is this important when it comes to the three-strikes law and truth of sentencing?
  • What happened to many of the black leaders of the 1960s? Since there weren’t many prominent black leaders in the late 1970s and early 1980s, how did that impact mass incarceration laws?
  • Explain ALEC and its impact on incarceration.
  • What is the conflict with CCA in lowering crime?
  • Why do the poor, accused population often not go to trial?
  • How does the movie prove that wealth not guilt shapes outcomes in the criminal justice system?

Information and Stats from the film that you might want to use for your essay. 

When open terrorism against blacks became illegal, segregation grew. Civil Rights activists, who we now laud, were considered criminals.

In the late 80s, black men were over represented in the media as criminals. (Shows like COPS were very popular) Four innocent black kids and one Hispanic kid were wrongly convicted in the Central Park Jogger and incarcerated 6-11 years until DNA evidence cleared them. H

1970   357, 292 US prison population,

1980   513, 900 US prison population

1985   759, 100 US prison population

1990    1,179, 200 US prison population

2000    2,015, 300 US prison population

2014    2,306, 200 US prison population (1 million are African American)

2001   878, 400 African American Prison Population

  • 1 in 17 white men will be incarcerated
  • 1 in 3 black men will be incarcerated
  • 5 US population in African American, but 40.2 percent of the US prison population.


Approximately 250 words