Tennessee Bans Slavery - So What?
This year Tennessee banned all forms of slavery in the state. Now I’m trying to find out how to fight to get fair wages for work. If you can send info on how to fight that, that would be great.
A Florida Prisoner writes: Do you guys know the steps California prisoners took to gain their liberation from being treated as slaves under the 13th Amendment of the Constitution? I need to know the steps they took because I would like to initiate these same steps in the Florida prison system to see if we can also gain our liberation under the 13th.
A Texas Prisoner writes: This is a plea for us to come together in a prolonged effort to get the Texas Legislature to end slavery in Texas by removing the exception clause from the Texas Constitution. This is what we’re asking each and every one of you to do: From now until the Texas Legislature convenes, write to your state Representatives and Senators and ask them to convene a special session or whatever it takes to remove this clause. You should also write to Sunset Advisory Commission PO Box 13066 Austin, TX 78711.
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: In the November 2022 elections the vast majority of Tennessee voters voted to amend their state constitution to read:
“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.”
We print the first two comrades’ questions for others to answer. We’ve been asking for years what the point of these campaigns to amend the Constitution is? How does this get us closer to liberation, not to mention just benefiting prisoners in the short-term? An attempt to search for increases in prisoner wages in Tennessee just brings up articles on massive increases in C.O. pay (prior to the above amendment).
As for California, the Constitution still says slavery is okay for the convicted felon. So there’s been no “liberation” in that regard. California prisoners are required to work or engage in other programs deemed rehabilitative by the state. While California legislators have cited cost concerns for not supporting amending the Constitution, it is not clear that states that have changed their constitutions in this regard have had financial impacts (especially by requirements to pay prisoners higher wages).
If our readers have information to the contrary or examples of these campaigns leading to anything, please write up an article for ULK. But we know from a historical materialist understanding that slavery has only been ended through class struggle, not by voting or writing your Senator.