21 states currently have slavery and involuntary servitude language still in their constitutions or as laws.
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.