The Democrats introduced an exception to slavery in Amendment 13

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyNight Defense: Defense Bill Between Congress Year-End Scramble | Murder of Iranian scientist hampers Biden’s nuclear deal Plan Navy scraps USS Bonhomme Richard after fire (D-Ore.) And Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy Clay According to the incoming legislator, colleagues in Breonna’s Taylor mask call Breonna the record number of black women elected to Congress in 2020. Six people whose choices have won MORE history (D-Mo.) A joint motion for a resolution was tabled on Wednesday to delete the criminal provision banning slavery in Amendment 13 to the Constitution.

The resolution calls on the House and Senate to draft an amendment stating that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude can be punished as a criminal offense”.

Lawmakers say the wording would close the loophole in Amendment 13, which still gives way to slavery being legal. The amendment currently reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude can exist within the United States or in any other place under their jurisdiction, except for the punishment of the offense, half of which has been duly convicted.”

“America was based on the beautiful principles of equality and justice, and the terrible realities of slavery and white superiority, and if we are to ever fully fulfill those principles, we must face reality directly,” Merkley said. “From the prohibition of slavery in Amendment 13, criminal justice has deteriorated as a means of racist control of Black Americans and other colorful people, and we see this legacy every day in our country’s police meetings, courtrooms and prisons. Slavery is incompatible with justice. There is no slavery, no exceptions.

“Our abolition amendment seeks to complete the work that President Lincoln began by removing the punishment clause in Amendment 13 to end the exploitative and discriminatory forced labor of prisoners for profit, which was used to promote the excessive imprisonment of African Americans. the civil war. No American should ever be subjected to involuntary bondage, even if they are imprisoned, ”Clay added.

In addition to Merkley and Clay, 17 co-sponsors joined the introduction of the legislation.

In a statement promulgating the legislation, Merkley and Clay tied the loophole to the “black codes” introduced in the late 1800s, which were used by southern sheriffs to hire imprisoned persons into the land of landowners. Merkley and Clay say the language “created a financial incentive for mass incarceration,” which they say still exists in the unequal treatment of colorful people in the criminal justice system.

The proposal came in the summer of national protests over systemic racism and police brutality after law enforcement officers shot unarmed black Americans. The legislation has won the support of several activist groups.

“This change is long overdue. The penalty clause in Amendment 13 is the legacy of slavery, which has allowed the disproportionate use of imprisoned, disproportionately black and brown people for decades. It is long overdue for Congress to remove this language from the U.S. Constitution, which must begin to put an end to the abusive practices that result from it, ”said Laura Pitter, U.S. program director for Human Rights Watch.