Efforts by States to Eliminate the Exception Allowing Slavery
or Involuntary Servitude as Punishment for a Crime

The Thirteenth Amendment to The U.S. Constitution abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude except when it is punishment for a crime.  Twenty states have similar language in their Constitutions.  Colorado removed the exception in 2018, Utah and Nebraska voters approved a ballot measure to remove the language in 2020, and four other states are working to eliminate it.  The chart below tracks the twenty-three states and the status of their efforts to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude.  This chart will be periodically updated.  It was originally published June 2020 and last updated March 2021.

map detailing state efforts

 

State Original Text Current status
States that have successfully eliminated the exception
Colorado 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.

Article 2, Section 26

 

Successfully amended in 2018.  Now reads: There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude
Utah Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State. Article I, Section 21 Voters approved a ballot measure to eliminate the exception on Nov. 3, 2020.  When it goes into effect, January 2021, it will read: Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude with exist within the State.
Nebraska There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article I, Section 2

 

Voters approved a ballot measure on Nov. 3, 2020.  When it goes it effect, it will read: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State.

 

States working to eliminate the exception
Arkansas There shall be no slavery in this State, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime. Article II, Section 27 In 2019 Rep. Vivian Flowers introduced an amendment to remove the exception.  It did not make it out of the legislature.
California Slavery is prohibited. Involuntary servitude is prohibited, except to punish crime. Article I, Section 6 Dec. 18, 2020, Assembly Member Kamlager introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 3
Minnesota No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers. 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 I, Section 2 Senator Bobby Joe Champion introduced an amendment in February 2020.  Awaiting further action by the legislature.
Ohio There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.

Article I, Section 6

House Joint Resolution 4 was introduced by Tavia Galonski and Senate Joint Resolution 5 was introduced by Cecil Thomas in the 2019-2020 session but did not move forward.  They will need to be reintroduced in the 2021-2022 session.
Oregon There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

Article I, Section 34

Senate Joint Resolution 10 was introduced in 2021. It proposes an amendment to Oregon Constitution to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances.

 

Tennessee That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this state. Article 1, Section 33  Currently in the legislature.  Passed in the 111th session, now needs to pass in the 112th session.  If it does, it would be on the ballot in 2022
Vermont That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to beholden 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, after arriving to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like. Chapter 1, Article 1 PR.2 was passed in 2020.  It needs to be passed again in the next legislative session and then will be on the ballot in 2022.
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 I, section 2 Rep. Lena Taylor advanced a bill to remove the exception for the punishment of a crime in 2016 and 2017, it failed both times.
States without mention of slavery in their constitution that are working to add language to make it clear that slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime is outlawed
Florida House Joint Resolution 413, introduced by Hart, amendment prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude.
New York Senate Bill 308, introduced by Zellnor Myrie, would prohibit involuntary employment of prisoners.
New Jersey Resolution 145, introduced by McKnight, Timberlake, and Speight, would amend the Constitution to prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude, , including as a penalty or a punishment for a crime.
Texas HR 51, introduced by Allen, would would amend the Constitution to prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude, , including as a penalty or a punishment for a crime.
States with the punishment exception that are not working to eliminate it
Alabama That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted.

Article I, Section 32

Georgia There shall be no involuntary servitude within the State of Georgia except as a punishment for crime after legal conviction thereof or for contempt of court.

Article I, 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 I, Section 37
Iowa There shall be no slavery in this State; nor shall there be involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.

Article I, 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. Bill of Rights Section 6
Kentucky Slavery and involuntary servitude in this State are forbidden, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

Article I, Section 25

Louisiana Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime.

Article I, Section 3

Michigan Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude unless for the punishment of crime, shall ever be tolerated in this state. Article I, Section 9
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 III, Section 15
Nevada That there shall be in this state neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment for crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

Article I, Section 17

North Carolina Slavery is forever prohibited.  Involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the parties have been adjudged guilty, is forever prohibited.

Article I, Section 17

North Dakota Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime,shall ever be tolerated in this state.

Article I, Section 6

States without mention of slavery in their constitutions and currently no legislation to amend the constitution to abolish all forms of slavery
Alaska
Arizona
Connecticut
Delaware
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Missouri
Montana
New Hampshire
New Mexico
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wyoming
District of Columbia