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File #: 210709    Version: 0 Name:
Type: Resolution Status: ADOPTED
File created: 9/17/2021 In control: CITY COUNCIL
On agenda: Final action: 9/23/2021
Title: Urging the U.S. Congress to pass Joint Resolution 21, known as the "Abolition Amendment," to strike the "Slavery Clause" from the 13th Amendment and end the loophole in the U.S. Constitution that allows forced labor to continue in United States prisons "as a punishment for crime."
Sponsors: Councilmember Brooks, Councilmember Johnson, Councilmember Gym, Councilmember Green, Councilmember Gauthier, Councilmember Gilmore Richardson, Councilmember Domb, Councilmember Bass, Councilmember Thomas
Attachments: 1. Resolution No. 21070900, 2. Signature21070900
Title
Urging the U.S. Congress to pass Joint Resolution 21, known as the "Abolition Amendment," to strike the "Slavery Clause" from the 13th Amendment and end the loophole in the U.S. Constitution that allows forced labor to continue in United States prisons "as a punishment for crime."

Body
WHEREAS, The 13th Amendment abolished slavery after the Civil War and freed millions of enslaved people, who were largely of African descent. The liberation dealt a severe economic blow to Southern states whose agricultural economies had been built on the backs of Black people held in bondage for generations. However, lawmakers left a loophole, also known as the "Punishment Clause," within the 13th Amendment that outlawed slavery "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted"; and

WHEREAS, Immediately following the ratification of the 13th Amendment, beginning during Reconstruction and accelerating after Reconstruction ended, Southern jurisdictions arrested Black Americans in large numbers for minor crimes codified in new "Black Codes," like loitering or vagrancy. Sheriffs would exploit the Punishment Clause to lease out incarcerated people to work landowners' fields-in some cases on the very plantations where they had previously been enslaved; and

WHEREAS, The later introduction of racist policies like Jim Crow laws, the "war on drugs," and "three strikes" laws dramatically expanded the U.S. prison population from 357,000 in 1970 to 2.3 million by 2020. In combination with severe plea deals and harsh mandatory minimums, these policies facilitated generations of poverty, broke up families, and incentivized the over-incarceration of Black people in the United States; and

WHEREAS, To this day, many states and the federal government exploit the 13th Amendment loophole by mandating that all able-bodied incarcerated people work. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 900,000 incarcerated people in the United States are forced to w...

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