20 February, 2023: No more forced labor for prisoners ? Read to know more.
After the passage of forced labor prohibition laws in four states last year, lawmakers in Nevada and California are moving legislation to strike "involuntary servitude" from the state constitutions of their respective states.
The purpose of these ideas is to eliminate sections from state constitutions that permit the use of forced labor as a form of punishment. The initiatives coincide with a rising movement in several states to remove outdated text from their state constitutions that dates back more than a century.
Prisoners usually receive wages of less than $1 [₹82] per hour in California, Nevada, and other states to put out fires, clean jail cells, create license plates, or maintain cemeteries.
One of the lingering influences of chattel slavery in the United States is the wording permitting involuntary servitude that is still present in the constitutions of more than a dozen states. In recent years, the first state to amend its constitution to outlaw slavery and involuntary servitude was Colorado, which did so in 2018. Utah and Nebraska followed in 2020.
The most prevalent type of slavery known to Americans is chattel slavery. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, this system permitted persons to be bought, sold, and possessed by other individuals. It was legal and backed by the United States and other European countries.
In California, more than 40 supporters of the proposal gathered in front of the state Capitol to hear lawmakers and former prisoners discuss the negative effects of forced labor.
Voters will decide whether to accept the new proposal in November 2024 if the California Legislature approves it by a two-thirds vote this year. That means if two thirds of the assembly members agree to amend the bill, the law will be passed.
In the meantime, the Nevada legislature unanimously approved a bill that would amend the state constitution to outlaw slavery and forced labor, which is currently only permitted "as a punishment for crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."
The bill is being sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Howard Watts of Las Vegas, whose great-great-grandfather was a victim of slavery. “I believe that it’s time for us to move forward and make it clear and unequivocal that nobody will ever live through the horror of state-sanctioned slavery, or servitude ever again,” Mr. Watts said.