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Slavery in South Carolina

What is the difference between a good slave and a bad slave? The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) knows: Good slaves "continue to work and stay out of trouble".

Below is the full text of a memorandum addressed to the South Carolina "inmate population" and signed by SCDC Director Michael W. Moore:
On January 20, 1998, changes will be made in inmate pay. You will continue to receive your inmate pay as long as you are working on a job. However, if you are in lock-up or unemployed on this date, you will not be paid for the rest of your sentence.

Any new inmate entering the South Carolina Department of Corrections after January 19, 1998, will not be paid.

On January 20, 1998, if you are a paid inmate, your pay will be frozen at your current pay. It will not increase after that date. However, if you are found guilty of a major disciplinary or criminal offense within SCDC, you will lose all of your pay for the rest of your time in prison.

Again, your current pay will not be affected as long as you continue to work and stay out of trouble. A new policy will come out soon. Your questions will be answered when the new policy is published.

Why not eliminate pay for all prisoners effective on the same date? Well, that would create one unified class of about 21,000 very unhappy slaves.

By throwing a temporary bone to those prisoners who "continue to work and stay out of trouble", the SCDC creates one class of prisoners who might very well be inclined to rebellion. And how better to control the volatility of the disaffected slaves than through the skillful manipulation of their peers?

Those who remain in paying jobs after January 20, 1998, will most likely be quite eager to "continue to work and stay out of trouble". In fact, any kind of "trouble" popping off is the last thing these prisoners would want. They'll be sure to actively dampen any sparks of rebellion. I can see it now. "Hey, guys, what we all gotta do here is stay calm and not do anything stupid."

Perhaps in a year or two, the SCDC will issue another memo announcing that pay for all prisoners will be terminated. Period. And what then? There will again be two classes of prisoners: 1) those who lost their pay a year or so before (and harbored a resentment for the paid prisoners ever since) and 2) the "let's all stay calm" prisoners who toed the line, continued to work and stayed out of trouble.

Divide and conquer. Pure and simple. And you know what? It'll probably work.

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