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My constitutional amendment to end slavery, once and for all

We are taught in school that the Civil War and the 13th Amendment brought freedom to America. They never told us that slavery still exists right now.

I'm talking about a big part of America's prison system, because the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, created an exception for slavery "as a punishment for crime."

And then the white supremacists who declared war on the U.S. government to perpetuate slavery immediately used that loophole to turn criminal justice system into a tool of racist oppression.

That's why, this past week, I teamed up with Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri to introduce a constitutional amendment to close this racist loophole for good.

For starters, we need your support: please sign the petition urging Congress and the states to take up our plan to end the last vestiges of slavery by fixing the 13th Amendment.

The history is exactly as bad as you think: after the Civil War, newly-free Black citizens were systematically arrested for minor offenses, thrown in prison, and then — under the 13th Amendment's exception — forced to work for free for former slaveholders, sometimes in the same fields on the same plantations they had been forced to work when enslaved.

From that convict leasing up through Jim Crow and the war on drugs, the 13th Amendment loophole has turned our criminal justice system into a tool to oppress Black and Brown Americans.

Even today, 155 years after the Civil War, nearly a million men and women in our country are forced to work for others' profit, including for-profit corporations, refining raw materials, harvesting and cleaning crops, even working as call-center operators.

Slavery is incompatible with justice. Full stop.

I'm on a mission to end it by fixing the 13th Amendment. And why we're rallying support across the country.

Please sign our petition calling on Congress and the states to end slavery by updating our constitution's 13th Amendment.


Posted on December 10, 2020.

Born in the small town of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, Jeff Merkley has never lost touch with his working class roots.

As a U.S. Senator, he works every day to create opportunity for working families, stop the corruption of our democracy, and tackle the climate crisis.

A workhorse and a progressive champion, Jeff Merkley is leading a movement to get our country back on track.

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