ATEST Joins Other Orgs Calling for New Constitutional Amendment to Completely Outlaw Slavery

ATEST has joined a long list of organizations urging Congress to fix a loophole in the U.S. Constitution that allows for slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for a crime.

A bipartisan Constitutional Amendment has been introduced to once and for all end slavery in the U.S. under any circusmtances (H.J.Res. 72).

Here is the End the Exception coalition’s letter to congressional leaders expressing widespread support for the effort:

Dear Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and members of the 118th Congress, 

Slavery is an evil that has loomed over our nation since its founding. For centuries, slavery brutally terrorized and exploited Black people, and its racist legacy — carried through Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, sentencing disparities, and other public policies — continues to impact the lives of Black people and other people of color. 

Passed in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is celebrated for abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude. However, to the surprise of many, it includes an exception clause that allows for the continued use of slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. During Reconstruction, this exception encouraged the criminalization, incarceration, and re-enslavement of Black people. Still today, more than 150 years later, people who are incarcerated across our country are disproportionately Black and brown, and their enslavement is legally permissible under this exception in our Constitution. 

The exception in the Thirteenth Amendment is a shameful stain on our Constitution that undermines the humanity of millions. It is time we make it unequivocally clear that slavery has no place in our democracy, ensure the protection of all people from slavery, and finally make the evils of slavery history.

Media contact: Terry FitzPatrick | [email protected]