PRISON LABOR

Did you know slavery and involuntary servitude is still legal in the United States? The 13th Amendment of the US Constitution aimed to abolish slavery, but in reality, the amendment allowed slavery to remain legal. The “Exception Clause”, also known as the Punishment Clause, makes it possible for slavery to be used as a method of punishment, allowing the government to legally subject people incarcerated across the United States to forced labor.

Read more about the issue below, then take action by clicking on the button and joining Freedom United's Amend the 13th campaign.

Made in USA: Prison Labor Keeps Slavery Legal in 2024

“I earned 16 cents an hour working in the basement of Auburn Correctional Facility using heavy machinery to make the …

IOM’s Regional Situation Report on Trafficking in Persons into Forced Criminality in Online Scamming Centers in Southeast Asia

Trafficking in Persons into Forced Criminality in Online Scamming Centers in Southeast Asia Testimonies from the Report: Nasim Nasim*, a …

Breaking Free of the Thirteenth Amendment’ Slavery Exception

This report comes roughly a year after we published our first report, in November 2022, on the existence of forced …

Freedom United Blog Post: Ending prison slavery just makes economic sense – claims new study

Governments can’t afford to undo slavery in prisons. At least, that’s what we’ve been hearing for years. But maybe they …

A Cost-Benefit Analysis: The Impact of Ending Slavery and Involuntary Servitude as Punishment & Paying Incarcerated Workers Fair Wages

Executive Summary To the surprise of many, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes an exception to the abolition …

Prison slavery linked to fast Food Giants Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Kroger

A comprehensive two-year investigation by The Associated Press unravels intricate, invisible webs connecting some of the world’s largest food companies …
justice

Eight Ways You Can Advance Justice Reform in 2024

The total jail and prison population in the United States has declined 21 percent since mass incarceration reached its peak level in …

Prisoners Sue Alabama, Calling Prison Labor System a ‘Form of Slavery’

A group of current and former prisoners sued Alabama on Tuesday, saying that the state’s system of prison labor is …

US prison labor is cruel and pointless legalized slavery. I know first-hand

After 12 years, I was released with $40 and a bus ticket. The state did not even give me an …

US 1 of 17 countries practicing ‘modern slavery’ with forced labor: report

The U.S. is 1 of only 17 countries in the world that uses state-imposed forced labor, a form of “modern …

Why Inflation Price Hikes Are Even Worse Behind Bars

An additional “tax” on commissary goods means incarcerated people are paying far more for staple items like peanut butter and …

Prison Labor: Where Dead-End Jobs Meet 21st Century Slavery

For more than 150 years, the U.S. Constitution has relegated prisoners to a distinct underclass that allows us to be …

Exploiting Prison Workers for Cheap Sheets

On March 3, 2023. in Crestline, Calif., a crew of inmate firefighters walk back to their vehicle after shoveling and …

Policy Blueprint for Ending Carceral Profiteering

Forward Each year, a matrix of private corporations generate $80 billion in revenue by exploiting incarcerated people and their support …

Did the 13th Amendment really abolish #slavery?

On February 1, 1865 Abraham Lincoln signed a joint House and Senate resolution that would later be ratified as the …

Louisiana’s over-incarceration is part of a deeply rooted pattern

An inmate serving a jail sentence rests his hand on a fence. REUTERS/Joshua Lott A recent U.S. Justice Department report …

Prison Labor: What Happened in the 5 States That Had The Exception Clause On the Ballot

The 13th Amendment is the legislation that “ended” legal slavery in the U.S., it reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, …

Louisiana voters rejected an antislavery ballot measure. The reasons are complicated

Out of five states that put measures to voters on the subject, Louisiana voters were the only ones to vote …

What’s in Alabama’s new state constitution of 2022? What’s changed?

Rep. Merika Coleman, the Birmingham Democrat who spearheaded Alabama’s new state constitution, said she’s tired of the South’s national image. …

Voters in four states approve effort to wipe slavery and indentured servitude off the books

On Election Day at the Martin Luther King Elementary School in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, on November …

Slavery, involuntary servitude rejected by 4 states’ voters

Voters in four states have approved ballot measures that will change their state constitutions to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude …

Slavery is on the ballot for voters in 5 US states

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than 150 years after slaves were freed in the U.S., voters in five states will …

What an Alabama Prisoners’ Strike Tells Us About Prison Labor

People incarcerated in the Alabama prison system began striking Monday over what they’ve described as inhumane treatment. Organizers say thousands have participated in the …

California Is Dependent on Prison Labor for Fighting Fires. This Must End.

On September 7, 2022, after many attempted delays from the City of Susanville, California, a Lassen County judge ruled in …

Locked Up: The Prison Labor That Built Business Empires

Companies across the South profited off the forced labor of people in prison after the Civil War – a racist …

Alabama Constitution: Committee appears to support plan to remove racist language

A committee studying racism in the Alabama Constitution gave tacit approval Wednesday to a plan to remove language on school …

‘Slavery by any name is wrong’: the push to end unpaid labor in prisons

A nationwide movement hopes to close the ‘slavery loophole’ that enables the exploitation of 800,000 prisoners in the US When …

Proposed Tennessee constitutional amendment on slavery wording to go before voters

The Tennessee House has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the state constitution’s wording to allow for prisoners …

Would Vermont’s anti-slavery amendment impact prison labor? Advocates say rhetoric ‘misses the point.’

As the Nov. 8 general election approaches, advocates from around the country have pointed to Vermont’s Proposal 2 — which, …

Yes, slavery is on the ballot in Oregon and four other states

Oregon’s Measure 112 The Legislature referred Measure 112 on slavery and servitude to the November ballot. The statewide measure would …

Slavery in Louisiana’s prisons? This lawmaker wants voters to outlaw forced labor for good

A state lawmaker said Wednesday that slavery is alive and well in Louisiana’s prison system and put forward legislation that …

Voters in 5 states to decide in November whether to abolish forced prison labor

In his 10 years behind bars, Dorsey Nunn says he was an inmate and a slave because he was forced …

Prison Labor: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Originally aired in 2019 John Oliver explains how prisoners make and spend money, and how companies can profit at the …

Involuntary Servitude: How Prison Labor is Modern Day Slavery

Image by Javad Esmaeili licensed under the Unsplash License. Note: I have been using the term “incarcerated people” throughout my column (as opposed …

California Senate rejects involuntary servitude amendment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A proposal aimed at removing the last remnant of slavery from California law failed to pass …

Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers

Executive Summary Our nation incarcerates over 1.2 million people in state and federal prisons, and two out of three of …

US prison workers produce $11B worth of goods and services for ‘little to no pay at all’

Despite producing nearly $11 billion worth of goods and services each year, incarcerated workers in the U.S. earn an average …

Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families

Original Publication in 2015 Executive Summary Each year, the United States spends $80 billion1 to lock away more than 2.4 …

Global Prison Trends 2022

Outside prison gates in Yangon, Myanmar Executive Summary This executive summary includes extracts from the full report published in English. …

Dems Mark Anniversary of 13th Amendment With Calls to ‘Close the Slavery Loophole’

“Prison labor is slave labor. Pass the #AbolitionAmendment.” Congressional Democrats on Monday marked the 156th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th …

The 13th Amendment’s fatal flaw created modern-day convict slavery

The 13th Amendment is having a moment of reckoning. Considered one of the crowning achievements of American democracy, the Civil …

Amend the 13th : Outlaw slavery in the United States- Freedom United Petition

It is 2022 and slavery and involuntary servitude is still legal in the United States. Passed by Congress on January …

Prison Labor is Remarkably Common Within the Food System

When many people think of prison labor, they get an image in their head of convicts stamping license plates for pennies an hour. …

A lot of abuse for little pay’: how US farming profits from exploitation and brutality

Two dozen conspirators forced workers to pay fees for travel and housing while forcing them to work for little to …

Corporations are Making Millions of Dollars from US Prison Labor

Curtis Ray Davis II was wrongly convicted of murder. He served nearly 26 years in Louisiana’s Angola State Prison before …

Forced Prison Labor in China: Hiding in Plain Sight

Ancient Mogilev, a former city of the medieval Duchy of Lithuania and now part of Belarus close to the border …

Proposal to ban free prison labor introduced for 2022 Florida legislative session

The state of Florida allows for unpaid prison labor, but that could change if a Tampa-based Democratic lawmaker’s joint resolution …

An Update on Prison Labor in Minnesota

In May 2018 after an exhaustive one and a half years of investigative research on prison labor, I published a …
map detailing state efforts

Efforts by States to Eliminate the Punishment Exception

Efforts by States to Eliminate the Exception Allowing Slavery or Involuntary Servitude as Punishment for a Crime The Thirteenth Amendment ...
labor exploitation in private prisons

Institutional Maintenance in Private Prisons: A Case of Labor Exploitation

Within the debate of penal labor, one commonly ignored aspect is the use of labor in contract facilities, also known …

How Students Can Help Address the Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers

Around the country, correctional industries are quietly furnishing our public universities with beds, desks, bookshelves, and more. These businesses, born …
Student Toolkit: How to Tackle Prison Labor on Your Campus

Student Toolkit: How to Tackle Prison Labor on Your Campus

Public universities are much more likely to buy goods made by incarcerated people because they can (and are sometimes required …
incarcerated firefighters

Incarcerated Firefighters

As the world contends with the coronavirus, and the United States reckons with systemic racism, the West Coast is being …
Prison

Human Trafficking and Prison Labor, Part 1: An Overview

This is the first in a three-part blog series authored by Polaris to introduce the issue.  Read part two here, …

Human Trafficking and Prison Labor, Part 2: Understanding the Types of Prison Labor

Most people assume that in 1865 with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment slavery in the United States was abolished. However, forced labor still exists in the United States today through the exception built into the Thirteenth Amendment for those who have been “duly convicted of a crime”. This exception made it legal and permissible to continue slavery within prisons in the United States. This is commonly known now as prison labor.
Prison Labor

Human Trafficking and Prison Labor, Part 3: Incarcerated Workers and COVID-19

This is the final part in a three-part blog series authored by Polaris to introduce the issue.  The first two …