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These states still have slavery language in their constitutions

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These states still have slavery language in their constitutions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — This November, five states, including Tennessee, will vote on measures that would remove slavery language from their state constitutions. 

“Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime,” is the language Tennesseans will vote on adding to the Tennessee Constitution with Amendment 3. This language would take the place of Article I, Section 33, which currently allows both “as a punishment for a crime.” 

According to the Associated Press, Tennessee joins Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon and Vermont in considering slavery provisions in their state constitutions. They follow movements in Colorado, Nebraska and Utah, which successfully amended their constitutions to remove the language entirely. 

Colorado amended its constitution in 2018, while Nebraska and Utah did the same in 2020. 

But more states still have slavery language on the books. 

According to the Abolish Slavery National Network, a coalition fighting to remove slavery provisions from every state, 21 states currently have slavery and involuntary servitude language still in their constitutions or as laws, as do Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. States that still contain slavery language are: 

Alabama: That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Section 32 

Arkansas: There shall be no slavery in this State, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime. Article 2, Section 25 

California: Slavery is prohibited. Involuntary servitude is prohibited, except to punish crime. Article 1, Section 6 

Georgia: There shall be no involuntary servitude within the State of Georgia except as punishment for crime after legal conviction thereof or for contempt of court. Article I, Section 1 Paragraph XXII 

Indiana: There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, within the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 37 

Iowa: There shall be no slavery in this State; no shall there be involuntary servitude, unless for punishment of crime. Article 1, Section 23 

Kansas: There shall be no slavery in this state; and no involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

Kentucky: Slavery and involuntary servitude in this state are forbidden, except as a punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 25 

Louisiana: Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime. Article 1, Section 3 

Michigan: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 9 

Minnesota: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state, otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted. Article 1, Section 2 

Mississippi: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 3, Section 15 

Missouri: That Slavery, or involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, shall cease to exist in Missouri on the 4th of July, 1870 and all slaves within the State on that day are hereby declared to be free. Ordinance abolishing slavery passed Jan. 11, 1865 

Nevada: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17 

North Carolina: Slavery is forever prohibited. Involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the parties have been adjudged guilty, is forever prohibited. Article 1, Section 17 

North Dakota: Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17 

Ohio: There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime. Article 1, Section 6 

Oregon: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 34 

Vermont: [T]herefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after arriving to the age of twenty-one years, unless bound by the person’s own consent…. Chapter 1, Article 1 

Wisconsin: there shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 2 

Washington, D.C.: [N]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for crime, whereof the party shall be duly convicted, shall hereafter exist in said District. 1862, an Act for the Release of certain Persons held to Service or Labor in the District of Columbia 

Puerto Rico: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist except in the latter case as a punishment for crime after the accused has been duly convicted. Article 2, Section 12 

The other half of the country has no language for or against slavery, though work is being done in New Jersey, New York, Maine, South Carolina, Texas and Florida to add language forever prohibiting it, according to the Abolish Slavery National Network.