Does an exception clause in the 13th amendment still permit slavery? | HISTORY

Does an exception clause in the 13th amendment still permit slavery? | HISTORY


The 13th amendment, which officially abolished slavery in the United States in 1865, includes a loophole regarding involuntary servitude.
The year the Civil War ended, the U.S. amended the Constitution to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude. But it purposefully left in one big loophole for people convicted of crimes.

The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, says: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Scholars, activists and prisoners have linked that exception clause to the rise of a prison system that incarcerates black people at more than five times the rate of white people, and profits off of their unpaid or underpaid labor.

“What we see after the passage of the 13th Amendment is a couple of different things converging,” says Andrea Armstrong, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. “First, the 13th Amendment text allows for involuntary servitude where convicted of a crime.” At the same time, “black codes” in the south created “new types of offenses, especially attitudinal offenses—not showing proper respect, those types of things.”

After the Civil War, new offenses like “malicious mischief” were vague, and could be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the supposed severity of behavior. These laws sent more black people to prison than ever before, and by the late 19th century the country experienced its first “prison boom,” legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes in her book The New Jim Crow . . .

Read on . . .

Source: Does an exception clause in the 13th amendment still permit slavery? | HISTORY