21st Century Slavery in America   3 comments

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “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.”

I more or less agree with this amendment. Slavery and involuntary servitude are unchristian and destructive of liberty and should have been disallowed by the federal constitution a long time before this amendment was passed.

However, the phrase “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” is a problem for me. It’s a narrow exception that allows modern-day involuntary servitude by way of criminal conviction and necessarily encourages discrimination while denying a convicted person “equal protection of the law” as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Many states deny felons, even after their punishment has been served, the right to vote, the right to bear arms, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to run for and/or hold public office. The disqualification from employment that public records disclosures encourages is “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the 8th Amendment and some states won’t even allow felons many occupational licenses.

A felon living in the United States of American might as well be a slave – at least then they wouldn’t have to worry about putting food on the table. And, no, I have never personally had more contact with the law than a speeding ticket. This is a matter of fairness with a huge dollop of what-would-our-Founders-say.

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution is an unconstitutional law because it allows slavery to exist under a narrow exception for those who have been “duly” convicted for a crime. As such, modern-day slavery, by way of criminal conviction, necessarily encourages discrimination and denies a convicted person “equal protection of the law” guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, i.e. right to vote; 2nd Amendment right to bear arms; jury duty; disqualified from running for and/or holding political office, etc. Modern-day slavery by way of criminal convictions also subjects a convicted person to “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The 13th Amendment was supposedly designed to outlaw slavery in the United States, but what it actually did was target African Americans for criminal convictions. African Americans have the highest conviction rate of any racial group in the country. American Indians are second. Unfortunately, people of all races and ethnicities are becoming victims of the growing American police state.

America was founded on the ideal that “all men are created equal”. We haven’t always lived up to that idea. For whatever reason, we seem always to be most comfortable with some group being officially less-than in our society. First it was black slaves, then it was Indians. In our modern times, felons are the new “black.” That more of them are black than white perhaps feels justified to some of us, but increasingly, more whites are becoming felons. Protest too vigorously at a public gathering and you too could become a felon, denied the right to bear arms, vote, take certain jobs, in some states, even hold a professional license.

It’s fashionable to say that these folks chose to break the law and therefore deserve what they get, but think about what is against the law now that wasn’t 30 years ago.

The point is – what was not illegal when I was a kid is illegal today. Don’t pitch a fit on a plane if the stewardess treats you like a steer bound for slaughter, because calling her by the name she is earning could be called Assault and depending on how much force you put into it, it’s a felony. If you have to pee in the woods, make sure you can’t be seen from the road, because that is public indecency and if a child sees you, it could be sexual assault of a minor (a felony). And felons are a special class of citizen who are denied natural rights by the 13th Amendment. As the surveillance state and public records disclosure has increased, even felons who managed to become model citizens with no police contact in decades are now being laid-off of jobs they’ve held for years because of new federal guidelines that don’t allow felons to work. Hospitals that accept Medicaid funds cannot employ felons. This resulted in a friend of mine who spent a week in jail 30-odd years ago for selling pot to a cop (a felony that could have carried a year-plus sentence) losing his job as the director of a substance abuse program at a major hospital, a position he’d held for over 10 years. He went into private practice, but he can’t receive Medicaid funds, and his attorney is now researching if ObamaCare will allow him to receive ANY insurance payments. The man has a doctorate in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work and he may not be able to get a job in his field because of something he did when he was 18 years old. By the way, he hasn’t had so much as a traffic ticket in the intervening years.

Our Constitution should reflect our natural values. If we’re serious about that clause in the Declaration “all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, then we need to take a real hard look at the 13th Amendment and fix what’s wrong with it. The Constitution was written to protect the liberty of all American citizens except slaves. The 13th Amendment was meant to correct that, except it just redefined who was a slave.

Again, an Article V convention would probably be called for another issue, so could not make any binding decisions, but could review the 13th Amendment and make a recommendation for alteration through a repeal and replacement process.

3 responses to “21st Century Slavery in America

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  1. Excellent argument and not one often discussed.


    • When you start looking at the statistics of incarcerations in this country, it’s mind-numbing. We lock up more people, on a per capita basis, than any other industrialized nation by a factor of two. Why?

      Ah, the administrative state rears its head once more. Incarceration provides jobs for corrections officers and all the people needed to support them. Then, when the inmate is released, his probation/parole provides more jobs for government minions to supervise him and hopefully catching him doing something he’s not supposed to — often things that are perfectly legal for you and I — so they can send him back to jail. We also lead the first-world nations in that.


  2. Reblogged this on aurorawatcherak and commented:

    I seem to use Fridays to reblog good articles I’ve written previously. This one on the 13th amendment and the incarceration-slavery of American citizens caught my eye this morning.


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