Your guide to Proposition 6: Ending forced prison labor

?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcalifornia times prop involuntary servitude

California’s Constitution mirrors the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. A growing list of states have passed similar initiatives that removed involuntary servitude as punishment for crimes from their state constitutions. Those states include Vermont, Oregon, Tennessee, Alabama, Nebraska, Utah, and Colorado.

Criminal justice reform advocates have been pushing for a change to the language in the Constitution for years, saying it allows the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to require able-bodied inmates to work for as little as 35 cents an hour.

The first push to remove that exception from the state Constitution stalled in 2022 because lawmakers feared it would cost billions. After the effort was discarded, Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City), chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, brought back the measure last year as one of 14 bills to advance reparations for the descendants of enslaved African Americans.

This measure would make prison work optional by instituting a voluntary work program.

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