For a specific example of the abuses that many prison plantations in the South were founded on (since the article implies but doesn't actually mention any details), it was extremely common post-slavery in the US for Black men to be arrested en masse for 'vagrancy' or other nonsense charges just before harvesting season and sentenced to hard labor for just long enough to finish the harvest, then get dumped on the street again.
There are great John Mayall and Mose Allison recordings of the eponymous song by Bukka White . Mayall did it live quite a bit, not sure if he's kept it on the repertoire.

Bukka White (1940): (this is also in the article)

Mose Allison (1958):

John Mayall (1969):

Nice. Prison-positive propaganda. Er...I mean...independent, investigative journalism.

From the Guardian.

> the singer recorded a few songs for the white musicologist John Lomax

Are we doing this now? Marking the race of people when we report on them?

Anyway, you can explore the Lomax archive of original recordings:

Let's not forget Mose Allison's classic Parchman Farm.