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Supporters of Rejected ‘Involuntary Servitude’ Vow to Bring It Back – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

State Sen. Sidney Kamlager (file photo)

Activists supporting legislation that would have ended involuntary servitude in California prisons and removed the word “slavery” from the California constitution say they may have lost a battle, but they won’t back down until they achieve their goals.

Late last month, the State Senate failed to pass Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 3, the California Removal Act. If the Legislature had approved the measure, it would have been placed on the November general election ballot for voter approval.

For now, California will remain one of nine states in the country that allows involuntary servitude as a criminal penalty.

June 30 was the last day ACA 3 needed a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Sen. Sidney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), who authored ACA 3 in 2021 while serving in the Assembly, said removing the word slavery from California’s constitution would be a “substantial step toward preserving” the future of ” the worst practice of our past.

“Yesterday ACA 3 was unheard of. It didn’t have the necessary 27 (votes) to get off the floor,” Kamlager said in a July 1 statement. “States across the country are embarking on this journey to remove hateful and historically hurtful language and practices from their constitutions. Until yesterday, California was like that.

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude with one exception: if the involuntary servitude is imposed as punishment for a crime.

Article I, Section 6 of the California Constitution spells out the exact prohibitions on slavery and involuntary servitude and the same exception for involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime.

Three states have voted to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude — Colorado, Utah and Nebraska — and in all three cases, the initiative was bipartisan and included on the unanimous vote of lawmakers, according to Max Partas, co-director of the National Abolitionist Network (ASNN ).

Camlager said involuntary servitude “is a euphemism for forced labor” and the language should be removed from the state constitution entirely. On June 23, the state Senate rejected the amendment to ban the language by a 21-6 vote. Without the input of 13 senators who did not vote, ACA 3 remained seven ballots away from passage.

“The California State Senate just reaffirmed its commitment to keep slavery and involuntary servitude in the state constitution,” Kamlager tweeted after the measure failed to pass.

The legislature is now on summer recess until the first week of August.

Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), the only Democrat to vote against the amendment on June 23, concluded that ACA 3 raises the question “whether or not California should require felons in state or local prisons to work.” He presented the idea based on information he received from the state Department of Finance (DOF).

DOF estimated the amendment would cost California taxpayers $1.5 billion a year in prison wages, DOF analyst Aaron Edwards told the Senate Appropriations Committee June 16.

Samuel Nathaniel Brown, a member of the Anti-Violence Safety and Accountability Project (ASAP), an organization that advocates for the rights of prisoners, said the Senate “messed things up” when it failed to remove the text from the California Constitution.

Brown helped author ACA 3 while in prison. He was released in December 2021 after serving a 24-year sentence.

“The people of California want to end slavery now. Two senators have set out to deprive people of the opportunity to vote on ACA3, and many people are disappointed and upset,” Brown said. “Now we will come back more educated, excited, focused and dedicated. We will eradicate the blatant vestiges of white supremacy that stain our constitution, weaken our rehabilitation system, and undermine public safety.

ACA 3 is related to the Task Force to Study and Develop Redress Proposals for the African-American Interim Report, which was presented to the California Legislature on June 1.

The report examines the continuing and compounding harms experienced by African Americans as a result of slavery and its lingering effects on American society today. It also provides remediation for these harms, including its support for ACA 3.

“This effort was extremely personal to me,” Kamlager said. “I will continue to fight to speak the truth about our history so that we can learn from it and be better.” This is democracy.”

Supporters of Rejected ‘Involuntary Servitude’ Vow to Bring It Back – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Supporters of Rejected ‘Involuntary Servitude’ Vow to Bring It Back – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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