Most people assume that the 13th amendment entirely abolished legal slavery in the United States. But the reality is there is a single exception: Prison labor. Unscrupulous corporations and governments looking to plug holes in their budgets have used this exception to turn a profit. This is human trafficking, and it is not what the framers intended.
Voters in Utah, Nebraska and Colorado have already voted to remove language from their state constitutions that allows for slavery or involuntary servitude through the use of forced prison labor. It’s time to do the same with the U.S Constitution. Tell your elected representatives, human trafficking has no place in our democracy.
Taking forced prison labor out of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t mean abolishing prison labor altogether. Many incarcerated people want the opportunity to earn money, learn new skills and contribute to the economy. But the current system of forcing people to work, for little or no pay, often in dangerous or unhealthy conditions, does not make our streets safer. It does, however, create a profit motive for sending people to prison, which has in turn led to the devastating mass incarceration of Black Americans.
Bottom line: There is no moral, just, or public safety argument for enshrining human trafficking in our Constitution. Tell your leaders, it is time to remove the exception to the 13th Amendment that allows for slavery and indentured servitude. Period.
Note: Unfortunately, if you live in a U.S. Territory, such as District of Columbia you don't actually have a voting representative in Congress and therefore cannot fill out the form.