AMEND THE 13th: ABOLISH “LEGAL” SLAVERY IN AMERIKA MOVEMENT
The Thirteenth Amendment marked the discursive link between the civilly dead felon and the slave or social nonperson… Once the connection to prisons and slaves had been made, slavery could resurface under other names… – Colin Dayan
Amerika is a slave state. A nation of which its wealth and prestige rest upon the subjugation and exploitation of other humans. In Amerika this process of transforming People from humans into slaves is carried out through the “Rule of Law.” Slavery is “legal” in the United States. We do not mean it was legal, but it is legal, and has always – in one form or another – been a corner-stone of the hierarchal structure of Amerikan society. That slavery remains legal in the U.S., though disturbing, is not as shocking as the fact that the vast majority of U.S. citizens don’t know slavery remains “legal.”
The U.S. Constitution states:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
From 1862 to the present day, Amerikan criminology and legislative effect would be a series of refinements on this single theme: the systematic criminalization of New Afrikans, other oppressed nationalities and the poor; populations designated for exploitation or disposal by the U.S. from its inception.
The primary rationale for “Amend the 13th” is simple: There are thousands of dynamic progressive groups and activists engaging the system in anti-PISC (Prison Industrial Slave Complex) work – waging the same struggle at many different points. But this beast is so big, so powerful, so imbedded in social life in the U.S., that it is able to ignore, absorb or superficially reform away our individual attacks, while keeping the heart of all these contradictions protected under layers of Constitutional legitimacy and conditioned public support. The heart of these contradictions is the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment.
The maintenance of slavery in the U.S. for those subject to the courts is designed to maintain both the physical structures of race/class oppression and the (psychological/ideological) character structures upon which the capitalist system is based. U.S. capitalism can not function without these populations forced to the bottom rung of society acting as surplus labor, human chattel or social scapegoats. Sexism and xenophobia play roles just as crucial as racism and classism in the U.S. capitalist arangement. Amerika, to our knowledge, is the only nation on the planet Earth which maintains a “legal” provision by which its own citizens can be reduced to “slaves of the state” within its national Constitution. Before there can be any serious talk of degrading the social foundations of supremacy and hate, we must eliminate their embodiment in “law.”
The “Amend the 13th: Abolish “Legal” Slavery in Amerika Movement” is an all-inclusive, coalition-based national campaign and community-based organizing effort which is determined to remove the legal and social basis for the dehumanization of those subject to the judicial machinery of the United States, and finally abolish slavery in Amerika once and for all.
The Movement has three (3) basic aims:
1) To amend the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove its “legal” slavery provision for all persons; including those found guilty and sentenced for a felony offense.
2) To abolish and/or repeal all “Civil Death” laws and social containment statutes which do not afford Prisoners, x-offenders and their communities full human, political, economic and participatory rights in social life in Amerika that derive their power from the 13th Amendment.
3) To develop and implement as quickly as possible autonomous community-based economic, political and social infrastructure capable of eliminating, mitigating or diminishing to the greatest degree the negative impact of mass incarceration, criminalization and “legal” slavery in our communities.
We will seek to accomplish this end via a three-prong strategy designed to raise social awareness of, and public opposition to the continuation of “legal” slavery in Amerika, while simultaneously undermining its basis:
A) Organize a national petition-drive to Amend the 13th Amendment to remove its “legal” slavery provision at the Federal level, and a corresponding petition in each state to rescind all “Civil Death” and social containment “laws” which derive their powers from the legal slavery provision of the 13th Amendment.
C) Promote and seek formal authority for the implementation of community-based parole, pardon and clemency review boards based on the concept of “Strategic Release.”
Building a successful movement with these aims begins with developing a competent and effective structure. Slavery and involuntary servitude for anyone – even those convicted of a crime – is itself criminal, morally repugnant and indefensible. In the final analysis, the complete abolition of slavery in Amerika is a historical imperative. We invite you to join us in this crucial work.
Support “Amend the 13th”!
To register your organization or yourself on the “Amend the 13th” Affinity Charter, please contact us via:
Email: Amendthe13th [@] gmail.com
Or write to:
J. Heshima Denham, J-38283
P.O. Box 5102,
Delano CA 93216
Download our short-mission-statement here (PDF)