Above: End prison slavery protest from national prison strike 2018.
Last November, Colorado became the first state to abolish prison slavery. Colorado voted overwhelmingly in favor of abolishing slavery and forced servitude as punishment for a crime.
The Colorado constitution included a passage that reads: “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” Sixty-five percent of voter supported ending prison slavery.
Abolish Slavery Colorado‘s co-chair Jumoke Emery said: “Regardless how people feel about the criminal justice system, the ultimate outcome is that it shouldn’t be slavery.”
Language still exists to allow forced servitude as punishment in more than a dozen state constitutions, Emery hopes this vote “opens up the door to a larger conversation about what abolition really looks like and can accomplish.”
The victory for prisoner rights comes at a time of resistance by prisoners. There was a national prison strike last summer and there are ongoing prisoner strikes still going on. Abolishing prison slavery was the second demand of strikers.
A second victory occurred in Florida where voters restored the voting rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated Americans. Reinstating voting rights was associated with the 10th demand of the national prison strike.