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Efforts Are Under Way To Remove Language Remaining In The US Constitution That Permits Slavery

It is commonly believed that the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment put an end to lawfully-authorized slavery in the United States.  Sadly, such is not the case.

The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified and made a part of the US Constitution on December 6, 1965.  The actual text of the 13th Amendment provides as follows:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

Accordingly, within the Thirteenth Amendment, there is a provision that permits slavery or involuntary servitude to be imposed as punishment for crime.

At long last, there is a movement afoot to delete this provision, and abolish slavery once and for all.

Maryland members of Congress recently presented a joint resolution directed at striking the offending language from the U.S. Constitution. This resolution is targeted at abolishing a form of chattel slavery that is still currently legal and is predominantly targeted towards convicted felons of color.

Maryland Democratic members of the House and Senate, including co-sponsors Sens. Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey and Chris Van Hollen are in full support of the proposed revision of the 13th Amendment to abolish any form of slavery. A House version, sponsored by Rep. William Lacy Clay, is also in action.

Those endorsing the ban include The Anti-Recidivism Coalition and Color of Change, and The Sentencing Project, both of which are human rights and social justice organizations fighting for the abolition of slavery.

It should be more widely known that the 13th Amendment still allows the use of involuntary servitude as punishment for prisoners convicted of crimes. Putting an end to this provision would mean that the law will no longer permit exploitation and forced labor onto convicted felons. The ratification of this amendment would also eliminate deeply harmful discriminatory treatment and legalized slavery onto prisoners of color, which has persisted since the end of the Civil War.

Proponents of this legislation realize that it will not be an easy task to amend the 13th Amendment to abolish all forms of slavery.  Nevertheless, it can be hoped that the abolitionists will prevail.

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