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Home » News » Slavery was on the ballot in some states; not every state has rejected it

Slavery was on the ballot in some states; not every state has rejected it

There were states that put changing their state’s constitution on the ballot for voters, specifically referring to slavery.

These changes would eliminate slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. Three states voted to change it, but one state didn’t want to.

The elimination of prison labor was eliminated in Alabama, Tennessee, and Vermont.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

In Oregon, “yes” was leading the way for the anti-slavery ballot, but it’s too early to tell what the outcome will be.

Louisiana, a state that had slavery, showed their voters rejected supporting an amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit the use of involuntary servitude.

While these changes aren’t going to create major changes in the state prison system, it could create legal challenges when forcing inmates to work. Oftentimes if inmates refuse work detail, they may lose privileges.

Anti-slavery advocates celebrated at the vote to amend the constitution in the states that supported it.

Though slavery was outlawed more than 150 years ago through the 13th Amendment, the language remained in many states’ constitutions.


Colorado was the first state to vote on eliminating language surrounding slavery in 2018. Soon after that Nebraska and Utah.

Bianca Tylek, an anti-slavery advocate and the executive director of the criminal justice advocacy group Worth Rises, made a comment on the issue.

“The 13th Amendment didn’t actually abolish slavery — what it did was make it invisible,” Tylek said.

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