Kinsey introduces legislation to abolish slavery as punishment for crime

HARRISBURG, Nov. 3 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., has introduced legislation that could abolish slavery as a punishment for a crime.

While the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery in part, it left behind a loophole that still allows for slavery as a punishment for a crime. Kinsey says this loophole has been exploited since its inception, facilitating the over-incarceration of Black people, and forcing incarcerated people to work for little or no pay.

“We all know that the loophole in the Thirteenth Amendment causes mass incarceration, which disproportionately puts more Black Americans in prison, even for very minor offenses. In prison they are forced to do free labor, which continues America’s legacy of slavery and oppression towards Black Americans,” Kinsey said. “Slavery and involuntary servitude have no place in Pennsylvania, and it is time for our constitution to reflect that. I believe this legislation is one way to address the legacy of slavery and help us move in a direction towards equality and justice.”

Kinsey’s bill (HB2904) is a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to prohibit slavery in all forms via the ballot.