I meant to blog about this book, Slavery By Another Name, after hearing Bill Moyers interview its author. It describes the little known history of what amounts to re-enslavement of people, almost all black, between the Civil War and WWII. You can find an overview at TPM Cafe, and I'll thank its author for jogging my memory.
Blackmon notes, as Reconstruction ended, white state governments realized "that the combination of trumped up legal charges and forced labor as punishment created both a desirable business proposition and an incredibly effective tool for intimidating rank-and-file emancipated African Americans and doing away with their most effective leaders." (p. 55) Every state in the South soon had laws allowing the leasing of prisoners.It's a really ugly history.