Prison Labor and the Thirteenth Amendment

THIS MAY DAY, International Workers Day, Remember workers still enslaved to this day!
The Brief Origins of May Day
By Eric Chase – 1993. http://www.iww.org/history/library/misc/origins_of_mayday

“The only exception, then — the only form of involuntary servitude explicitly allowed by the Thirteenth Amendment — is involuntary servitude as punishment for “crimes.” Of course, states have few restrictions on how they define “crimes.” During Reconstruction and well into the 1940s many Southern states took advantage of this exception to essentially reinstitute slavery in other forms…”

“A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free. “

Prison Law Blog

An issue raised by the Georgia prison strike is whether and how much prisoners should be paid for their labor. Here’s the first bullet point from the strikers’ list of demands (which I reproduced here):

· A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

As this is ostensibly a legal blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it does not, in fact, violate the Thirteenth Amendment to require prisoners to work for free. (That, of course, is an entirely separate issue from whether prisoners should be paid as a policy matter, or whether particular prisoners may have constitutionally cognizable challenges to particular work assignments — I’m speaking here at a broad level of generality.) And I’d rather risk pedantic than remiss, so here’s the text of…

View original post 998 more words

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