As many related articles point out, the 13 th Amendment of the U S Constitution still allows prison slavery, which is really a racist policy, given the inarguable racist nature of our criminal justice system. There are posted here many articles documenting racism in the system.
Excerpts from the Article:
The second time was the charm. On November 6, 2018, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state’s constitution that abolished all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude, after rejecting a similar ballot measure in 2016. [See: PLN, Dec. 2018, p.48; Nov. 2017, p.40]. Previously, Article II, Section 26 of Colorado’s constitution prohibited slavery “except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
The anti-slavery Amendment A was approved by 65 percent of Colorado voters. A similar measure, Amendment T, had been narrowly defeated two years earlier – a difference attributed to the language used in the prior ballot measure.
“The hope is that this win opens up the door to a larger conversation about what abolition really looks like and can accomplish,” said Abolish Slavery Colorado’s co-chair Jumokie Emery. “It’s clear to me, but regardless of how people feel about the criminal justice system, the ultimate outcome shouldn’t be slavery.”
The ballot measure made Colorado the first state to remove language allowing slavery as a punishment for crime from its constitution. At least a dozen other states’ constitutions and the U.S. Constitution still contain clauses permitting slavery as a form of punishment. Similar abolition measures failed in Wisconsin in March 2018 and stalled in Tennessee.
“This won’t have a direct impact on prison reform or how inmates are treated,” said Abolish Slavery Colorado organizer Kamau Allen. “But it is definitely more impactful than removing something like a Confederate monument, because this will actually change the text of a living document.”
Indeed, constitutional exceptions that allow prison slavery seem to be most prevalent in the states where chattel slavery once thrived. It is beyond time for those states to throw off this last vestige of their “peculiar institution” and follow Colorado’s lead in abolishing all forms of slavery, including prison slave labor.