U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928

NCJ Number
M J Mancini
Date Published
295 pages
This is a study of the rise, operation, and abandonment of convict leasing in the American South, 1866-1928.
In the years immediately following the Civil War, the Southern States sought to alleviate the need for cheap labor, a perceived rise in criminal behavior, and the bankruptcy of their State treasuries by leasing prisoners to individuals and corporations. This policy, in addition to reducing prison populations and generating revenues, provided a means of racial subordination and labor discipline. The book examines the practice from both regional and state-by-state perspectives. It describes prisoners' daily lives, profiles the individuals who leased convicts, and reveals both the inhumanity of the leasing laws and the centrality of race relations in the establishment and perpetuation of convict leasing. The book takes issue with the notion that convict leasing was an aberration in a generally progressive history of criminal justice, and contends that moral opposition was a distinctly minor force in the abolition of the practice. Only a combination of rising lease prices and years of economic decline forced an end to convict leasing in the South. Figures, tables, notes, bibliography, index