Colorado voters voted to abolish an amendment in their state's constitution that still listed slavery and forced servitude as punishment for a crime on Tuesday. The vote comes more than 150 years after the U.S. Constitution ratified the 13th Amendment.
Only 65 percent of Colorado residents voted in support of Amendment A, which changes Article II, Section 26 of Colorado's Constitution. The article currently reads: "Slavery prohibited. There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
The updated transcription will shorten the second sentence to say, "There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude."
Amendment A only needed 55 percent of the votes to pass.
One has to wonder, however, what were the remaining 35 percent of voters were thinking.
Well, NPR member station KUNC in Colorado reported that critics believe this revision could "interfere with prison labor for things like fighting wildfires."
Regardless of whether one is in favor of the law or not, it remains unethical to force inmates to perform dangerous jobs for below minimum wage.
A similar amendment failed to pass two years ago because voters were confused about the language in the law and didn't realize the bill would abolish slavery.
NPR reports: "Proponents, including Abolish Slavery Colorado, argue that the state constitution should be updated because it represents a time when not all people were seen as human beings or treated with dignity. Opponents say the change could result in legal uncertainty around current prisoner work practices in the state."
Abolish Slavery Colorado's co-chair Jumoke Emery has fought for a change in Amendment A since 2015. When the statute reappeared on the ballot this year, he made sure to clarify the wording and bring recognition around the state by working with grassroots activists and coalitions.
"The hope is that this win opens up the door to a larger conversation about what abolition really looks like and can accomplish," Emery told Fortune. "It's clear to me, but regardless how people feel about the criminal justice system, the ultimate outcome is that it shouldn’t be slavery."
Now, check these out: