Oregon voters reject slavery, involuntary servitude as punishment for crime


Voters in several states have approved ballot measures that will change their state constitutions to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime, including in Oregon.

The measures curtail the use of prison labor in Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont.

According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, Measure 112 was passing 54.81% to 45.19%.

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Here is more on the specifics of the measure from the state voters pamphlet:

Amends Constitution. Article I, section 34 of the Oregon Constitution currently prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude but allows an exception to that prohibition as a punishment for crime. Measure removes language that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime. Under measure, a court or probation or parole agency is allowed to order a person convicted of a crime to engage in education, counseling, treatment, community service, or other alternatives to incarceration, as part of sentencing for the crime. Ordered programs must be in line with programs that historically, or in the future, have been in place to provide for accountability, reformation, protection of society, or rehabilitation. Effect on current constitutional provisions requiring inmate work programs unclear.

In Louisiana, a former slave-holding state, voters rejected a ballot question asking whether they supported a constitutional amendment to prohibit the use of involuntary servitude in the criminal justice system.

Anti-slavery advocates celebrated the results as a signal for what’s possible in the effort to end the slavery exception in the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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