Abolish Slavery National Network

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Articles & Research

The Convict Lease System by Ida B. Wells

Taken from the third chapter of “The Reason why the colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition,” published in 1893.

Documentaries

13th – Documentary

Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. This piercing, Oscar-nominated film won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs and the NAACP Image Awards.

Podcasts

Listen to the Abolition Today Podcast

Abolition Today is a weekly online radio program with specific focus on modern slavery as it is practiced through the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution and by private, for-profit prisons worldwide. Airs live Sundays 7PM EST. 4PM PST and 5 Central. abolitiontoday.org

Listen to the Abolition Today Podcast episode- The 13th Amendment Trap Door -Abolition Today S1E7

Videos

Join the states that are demanding an end to the exception clause

Puerto Rico: No existirá la esclavitud, ni forma alguna de servidumbre involuntaria salvo la que pueda imponerse por causa de delito, previa sentencia condenatoria.

List of US states that have slavery language in their constitutions:

Alabama

That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Alabama Constitution, Section 32

Arkansas

There shall be no slavery in this State, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime. No standing army shall be kept in time of peace; the military shall, at all times, be in strict subordination to the civil power; and no soldier shall be quartered in any house, or on any premises, without the consent of the owner, in time of peace; nor in time of war, except in a manner prescribed by law. Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, Section 25.

California

Slavery is prohibited. Involuntary servitude is prohibited, except to punish crime. Article I, Section 6.

Colorado

AMENDED TO REMOVE SLAVERY IN 2018: There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude. Colorado Constitution Article 2, Section 26

Georgia

There shall be no involuntary servitude within the State of Georgia except as a punishment for crime after legal conviction thereof or for contempt of court. Article I, Section 1 Paragraph XXII.

Indiana

There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, within the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 37

Iowa

There shall be no slavery in this State; nor shall there be involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime. Article I, Section 23.

Kansas

There shall be no slavery in this state; and no involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

Kentucky

Slavery and involuntary servitude in this state are forbidden, except as a punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article I, Section 25

Louisiana

No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or political ideas or affiliations. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime. Article I, Section 3.

Maryland

An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” by a vote of 34 to 21 on March 1, 1870.

Michigan

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article I, Section 9.

Minnesota

No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state, otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted. Article I, Section 2

Mississippi

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 3, Section 15

Missouri

Emancipation Ordinance of Missouri

An ordinance abolishing slavery in Missouri 1/11/1865

SEC. 2. That Slavery, or involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, shall cease to exist in Missouri on the 4th of July, 1870 and all slaves within the State on that day are hereby declared to be free. Provided, however, that all persons emancipated by this ordinance shall remain under the control and be subject to their late owners, or their legal representatives, as servants during the following period to wit: Those over ??? years of age, for and during their lives; those under 12, until they arrive at the age of 23; and those of all other ages, until the Fourth of July, 1876. The persons, or their legal representatives, who, up to the moment of emancipation, were owners of slaves thereby freed, shall, during the period for which the services of such freedmen are reserved to them, have the same authority and control over the said freedmen for the purpose of receiving the possessions and services of the same that are now held by the master in respect of his slaves: provided, however, that after the said 4th of July, 1870, no person so held to service shall be sold to non-residents, or removed from the State by authority of his late owner, or his legal representative.

Nebraska

AMENDED TO REMOVE SLAVERY LANGUAGE IN 2020: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state. Article I, Section 2

Nevada

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17.

North Carolina

Slavery is forever prohibited. Involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the parties have been adjudged guilty, is forever prohibited.

North Dakota

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17

Ohio

There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime. Article I, Section 6.

Oregon

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 34

Tennessee

That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this state. Article 1, Section 33 The General Assembly shall make no law recognizing the right of property in man. Article 1, Section 34

Utah

AMENDED TO REMOVE SLAVERY LANGUAGE IN 2020: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within this State. (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to the otherwise lawful administration of the criminal justice system. Article 1, Section 21

Vermont

That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years, unless he is bound by his own consent, after he arrives to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like. Chapter I, Article 1st

Wisconsin

There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted.

Washington, D.C.

1862 An Act for the Release of certain Persons held to Service or Labor in the District of Columbia

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all persons held to service or labor within the District of Columbia by reason of African descent are hereby discharged and freed of and from all claim to such service or labor; and from and after the passage of this act neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for crime, whereof the party shall be duly convicted, shall hereafter exist in said District.

Puerto Rico

No existirá la esclavitud, ni forma alguna de servidumbre involuntaria salvo la que pueda imponerse por causa de delito, previa sentencia condenatoria.

Note: 25 states have no language whatsoever for or against slavery. New Jersey, New York, Maine, South Carolina, Texas, and Florida Abolitionists are currently advocating for legislation that adopts anti-slavery language into their state constitutions.

Did You Know? Statistics on Constitutional Slavery

  1. The US has the largest prison population to have ever existed on earth. Incarcerating more citizens per capita than Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia combined. (World Population Review)
  2. There are more black men in US prisons than there are in the top five populated African nations combined. (Prison Studies)
  3. Warehousing bodies for profit is a lucrative venture with jails cashing in as well as prisons. To incarcerate a single person on Rikers Island NY costs $556,000 a year. (New York City Comptroller)
  4. Constitutional slavery requires constitutional rights be denied. For instance, the 6th amendment is nearly non-existent due to a 95% plea bargain rate. (Pew Research Center)
  5. Institutional racism is a given in the US justice system. 95% of all prosecutors are white. 83% are white men. 36% of all inmates are black men who only make up 5% of the population. (NPR)
  6. 1 in 11 black men are behind bars. Nationwide, 1 in 3 are expected to spend time in prison before they are 30 years old. In some cities like Milwaukee, more than 1 in 2 black men are expected to spend time in prison. (Huff Post)
  7. For profit private prisons are global giants. The largest employer on the continent of Africa is G4S. A prison and security company. Employing over 110,000 in 25 countries. (G4S)
  8. The oldest version of the slavery exception clause come from Vermont’s 1777 constitution. It went through 8 iterations in various states in the 88 years prior to being adopted in the US constitution. (Abolitionist Center)
  9. Only months after General Granger showed up in Galveston, TX to announce the emancipation of people enslaved in Texas, the state began convict leasing. (Texas State Historical Association)
  10. Convict leasing is described by many historians as worse than slavery. 25% of all inmates died. Including children. Often, they were literally worked to death. (Digital History)

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Max Parthas, Co-Director of State Operations

Max Parthas is an internationally recognized Spoken Word Artist and American Slavery Abolitionist. In addition to numerous awards for his art, he is the recipient of the Missouri CURE Marc Taylor Activism Award, the Will Bell Humanitarian Award, and the “In The Spirit of Malcom X'' award from MX Media. 

Max is the current Acting Director for the Paul Cuffee Abolitionist Center in Sumpter, SC., Co-Director of State Operations for the Abolish Slavery National Network. Abolishslavery.us. and Co-host/Executive producer of Abolition Today (a unique online modern- slavery abolition episodic master class with an international audience.) abolitiontoday.org