‘End Slavery’ Constitutional Amendment in California Touted at Capitol 

By Sofia Hosseinzadeh

SACRAMENTO, CA – The annual Quest for Democracy Event here at the State Capitol this week focused on Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 (ACA8), the “End Slavery in CA Act,” authored by Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Antioch).

“Contrary to popular belief, slavery was not abolished by the 13th amendment. Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in involuntary servitude due to an ‘exception clause’ that allows free labor for punishment of a crime (and) enabled the modern re-enslavement of Black people, who’ve been overcriminalized by our nation’s criminal legal system for centuries,” the ACLU of California stated.

“Last year, over 65 percent of incarcerated people reported being forced to work in prison, doing vital jobs like firefighting and paving roads while governments and private companies generate and save, collectively, at least one billion dollars each year from their labor.

“In 2022, incarcerated workers made up 43 percent of the state’s fire fighters, but even after some were released from prison – they were barred from serving as firefighters. In the land of the free, forced labor is never acceptable. Prison labor is inherently coercive and exploitative. ACA 8 will seek to amend the state constitution to prohibit slavery in any form,” the ACLU added.

“Quest for Democracy serves as a vital platform for individuals directly affected by the criminal justice system to engage with State Legislators and advocate for substantive change,” wrote Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) in a press release.

“We are tax-paying Californians before, during, and after any state-imposed sentence, and we demand full access to the machinery of democracy to stay connected to our communities and maintain our humanity,” urged Dorsey Nunn, executive director of LSPC.

The main focus of the event centers around advocating for ACA 8 which amends the California Constitution to ban slavery in all forms including as punishment for a crime.

LSPC touched on this movement, writing, “One of the chief priorities for advocacy is demanding the elimination of slave language, such as involuntary servitude, from California’s Constitution and gaining the right to consent to any and all labor for incarcerated people.”

“No one, regardless of the circumstance, should be subject to forced labor and lose the right to autonomy and agency over their own body,” the statement urged.

“Advocates will champion legislative measures to keep families connected, increase wages for incarcerated workers, and eliminate barriers to housing and employment,” the LSPC said.

In addition to ACA 8, other legislation the event supports includes AB 958 which supports the right to family visits in prisons, AB 2959 which regulates the prices of food vending for incarcerated individuals, and AB 1810 which aids access to menstrual products in prisons.

The ACLU added, “Quest for Democracy serves as a vital platform for individuals directly affected by the criminal justice system to engage with State Legislators and advocate for substantive change.”

“One of the chief priorities for advocacy is demanding the elimination of slave language, such as involuntary servitude, from California’s Constitution and gaining the right to consent to any and all labor for incarcerated people. No one, regardless of the circumstance, should be subject to forced labor and lose the right to autonomy and agency over their own body,” the ACLU added.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for