People often talk about mass incarceration as if it’s just a continuation of American slavery. Historians know that’s not exactly right. Slavery was a legal system that allowed people and their descendants to be owned as chattel property forever. That all ended with the Civil War and the 13th Amendment. But if that’s not obvious to everyone, what are they seeing that historians don’t see? What insights do we gain by viewing mass incarceration as the afterlife of slavery?