Did you know that a number of US states continue to allow slavery even today?

Did you know that a number of US states continue to allow slavery even today? More than 150 years after it was officially banned, the United States is still trying to completely eradicate slavery through suffrage initiatives and amending state constitutions that allow the practice as a form of punishment for a crime.  Voters in five US states - Vermont, Tennessee, Oregon, Alabama and Louisiana - received a question on the ballot on Tuesday that gave them the option to remove exceptions to slavery in their constitutions.  But didn't the US Congress abolish slavery in 1865 by ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution?  What is being set?  The infamous Thirteenth Amendment stated, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for the crime of which the party is so sure, shall be located within the United States, or any place under its jurisdiction."  In other words, the amendment still allows slavery, involuntary servitude, or both as punishment for crimes across the country.  Even a year after the Thirteenth Amendment took effect, some states began taking advantage of this exemption clause with "black codes" that criminalize things like "vagrancy" and "goalless walking."  The black codes were a precursor to Jim Crow, a law declaring the imposition of racial segregation in the southern states of the United States, which was prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  To this day, critics argue that they have allowed large-scale abuses to flourish within the criminal justice system. Until this year's 2022 midterm elections, about 19 states continued to allow this exception to pass.  To update the actual amendment, two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the state legislatures must approve it. While congressional Democrats have tried to amend the waiver in recent years, their efforts have been unsuccessful.  The divided United States  Instead, some states have taken matters into their own hands, either through amendments that expressly exclude slavery and forced labor as a punitive option or by removing the terms from state law altogether.  But progress, however, is slow. For example, despite Vermont's pride in being the first state to outlaw slavery in 1777, its residents voted only to revise the aforementioned legislation in 2022.  More than 89% voted "yes" on Tuesday to the text stating that "slavery and forced labor in any form are prohibited."  Similarly, majorities of voters in Tennessee, Alabama, and Oregon appeared to approve of revising their constitutions, but with varying degrees of support and lower turnout overall.  More than 5 million people make up the eligible voting population of Tennessee, but only about a fifth of them have cast ballots. Among these, results now show that about 80% voted in favor of the amendment to "permanently ban" slavery and forced labor, and about 20% voted against.  Meanwhile, the current results in the state of Alabama indicate that about 77% of voters supported the change, while 23% did not support it. Oregon could narrowly pass the amendment, with 54 percent voting "yes" and 46 voting "no."  However, it seems that Louisiana is ready to break the "yes" pattern because the majority of its population, about 60%, so far vote "no" on the amendments.  While these results may continue to change as more results are revealed throughout the day, the message is clear: US states remain divided on the issue of slavery.  Symbolic modifications  The five states are last on the path to ending slavery, behind Nebraska and Ottawa, as voters decided to remove the language in the 2020 general election.  While some advocates argue that the proposed amendments are necessary to change the criminal justice system, which allows for discrimination and mass incarceration, others decline, arguing that the amendments are largely symbolic and may not lead to significant change.  Louisiana State Representative Alan Sibo said, "The effect won't be absolute. It's basically just nominal tweaks. It shows what's already on the books, although it could potentially be worse."  But Tennessee Senator Romesh Akbari, who supported the state's decision, said if the amendment passed it would be "a step toward fixing the consequences of excluding slavery."

More than 150 years after it was officially banned, the United States is still trying to completely eradicate slavery through suffrage initiatives and amending state constitutions that allow the practice as a form of punishment for a crime.

Voters in five US states - Vermont, Tennessee, Oregon, Alabama and Louisiana - received a question on the ballot on Tuesday that gave them the option to remove exceptions to slavery in their constitutions.

But didn't the US Congress abolish slavery in 1865 by ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution?

What is being set?

The infamous Thirteenth Amendment stated, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for the crime of which the party is so sure, shall be located within the United States, or any place under its jurisdiction."

In other words, the amendment still allows slavery, involuntary servitude, or both as punishment for crimes across the country.

Even a year after the Thirteenth Amendment took effect, some states began taking advantage of this exemption clause with "black codes" that criminalize things like "vagrancy" and "goalless walking."

The black codes were a precursor to Jim Crow, a law declaring the imposition of racial segregation in the southern states of the United States, which was prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

To this day, critics argue that they have allowed large-scale abuses to flourish within the criminal justice system. Until this year's 2022 midterm elections, about 19 states continued to allow this exception to pass.

To update the actual amendment, two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the state legislatures must approve it. While congressional Democrats have tried to amend the waiver in recent years, their efforts have been unsuccessful.

The divided United States

Instead, some states have taken matters into their own hands, either through amendments that expressly exclude slavery and forced labor as a punitive option or by removing the terms from state law altogether.

But progress, however, is slow. For example, despite Vermont's pride in being the first state to outlaw slavery in 1777, its residents voted only to revise the aforementioned legislation in 2022.

More than 89% voted "yes" on Tuesday to the text stating that "slavery and forced labor in any form are prohibited."

Similarly, majorities of voters in Tennessee, Alabama, and Oregon appeared to approve of revising their constitutions, but with varying degrees of support and lower turnout overall.

More than 5 million people make up the eligible voting population of Tennessee, but only about a fifth of them have cast ballots. Among these, results now show that about 80% voted in favor of the amendment to "permanently ban" slavery and forced labor, and about 20% voted against.

Meanwhile, the current results in the state of Alabama indicate that about 77% of voters supported the change, while 23% did not support it. Oregon could narrowly pass the amendment, with 54 percent voting "yes" and 46 voting "no."

However, it seems that Louisiana is ready to break the "yes" pattern because the majority of its population, about 60%, so far vote "no" on the amendments.

While these results may continue to change as more results are revealed throughout the day, the message is clear: US states remain divided on the issue of slavery.

Symbolic modifications

The five states are last on the path to ending slavery, behind Nebraska and Ottawa, as voters decided to remove the language in the 2020 general election.

While some advocates argue that the proposed amendments are necessary to change the criminal justice system, which allows for discrimination and mass incarceration, others decline, arguing that the amendments are largely symbolic and may not lead to significant change.

Louisiana State Representative Alan Sibo said, "The effect won't be absolute. It's basically just nominal tweaks. It shows what's already on the books, although it could potentially be worse."

But Tennessee Senator Romesh Akbari, who supported the state's decision, said if the amendment passed it would be "a step toward fixing the consequences of excluding slavery."
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