First it was slavery to keep the black Americans down and subservient to the white landowners and elite classes. When the slaves were freed during the civil war era the southern state legislators enacted what was known as "The Black Codes". The purpose of these codes was to restore slavery in substance if not in name. With these codes in place the states themselves took over the role of "Master" with these codes severely restricting black freedom.
Under the "Black Codes", blacks could not rent or lease land and were prohibited from buying property. In many southern states blacks could not vote, hold office or live in cities without a special permit. Tax laws were passed that forced blacks to pay a poll tax if they were allowed to vote at all and an occupation tax that crippled them economically. The state was allowed to arrest them for non-payment and send them to forced labor camps where they would be worked for up to a year free of charge. White plantation owners could also pay the taxes for the black man who would have to work the plantation until their debt is payed in full to the owner.
When these "Black Codes" were ruled unconstitutional it wasn't long before the first "Jim Crow" segregation laws made there appearance on the scene. Separate but supposedly equal under law. Separate drinking fountains, bathrooms, not being served in many establishments such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals and having to sit at the back of the bus or the balcony of movie theaters. Then came the literacy laws, more poll taxes and educational test as requirements for voting. Even state institutions for the blind were segregated. Color was distinguished where no color could be seen! Incredible!
Just as the social and economic discrimination continued in various forms from slavery to the "Black Codes" and through to "Jim Crow" laws that forced blacks to live in Ghetto's and work at menial labor jobs, these indignities are alive and well in the 21st century. Under various names the same social and economic injustices were advanced and the desired result of keeping the blacks and other minorities down were achieved in the past and are being successfully perpetrated today. It should be noted that some of these same laws governing literacy test and poll taxes were used against poor whites to prevent them from voting as well. The plantation owners and power brokers of the south had no intention of losing their grip on power and privilege because of disenfranchised poor folk of any color.
The "Jim Crow" laws and "Black Codes" of yesterday are the Criminal Offender Record Information (C.O.R.I.) reports of today and serve the same purpose: To keep the people of color and other poor minorities marginalized, sidelined and powerless to improve their position in society. The C.O.R.I. report effectively eliminates anyone with a criminal record (no matter how minor or long ago) from full participation in society for the rest of their lives and are used as a perfect excuse to deny the rights of millions of American citizens. With these C.O.R.I. reports you can be denied housing, employment in many fields like child care, banks, foster parenting, most state and federal employment, government contractors and prevented from getting a bank loan and the list goes on and on.
In this slick back-door manner the status quo has found a new way to practice bigotry, racism, discrimination and hate. With this C.O.R.I. information readily available to local, state and federal government agencies as well as employers, doors are slammed shut legally under the guise of protecting society. Under the banner of public safety and preventative measures to preempt the breaking of primary laws; every Tom, Dick and Harry, butcher, baker and candlestick maker can access these C.O.R.I. records, use them as legal tools of racism and turn an entire segment of the U.S. population into practically non-existent entities. C.O.R.I. is nothing less than government mandated institutional racism. It is lynching without rope; an electronic lynching and a subtle way of killing people slowly without literally whacking them. It is a new kind of cleverly disguise slavery, "Black Codes" and "Jim Crow" laws all rolled into one legislative act that turns American citizens into ghost and should be struck down as discriminatory and unconstitutional. At the very least the C.O.R.I. laws need to be modified and these records strictly limited, controlled and accessible only under the most stringent guidelines. Support C.O.R.I. reform.