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Justice 101: Exploring the 13th Amendment and the Persistence of Forced Labor in Prisons

April 17, 2024, 6:30 pm – 7:15 pm

Justice 101: Exploring the 13th Amendment and the Persistence of Forced Labor in Prisons

Virtual Program. Free.

In this thought-provoking program, we delve into the complex issue surrounding the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which ostensibly bans slavery with the exception of punishment for a crime. Despite the constitutional prohibition, reports suggest that forced prison labor persists, raising critical questions about the intersection of justice, incarceration, and human rights.

It has been 157 years since the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, yet hundreds of thousands of people are still living in involuntary servitude — legally — due to loopholes in the law that allow states to extract free labor from prisons. Today, over 65 percent of incarcerated people report being forced to work in prison, doing jobs like firefighting and paving roads for little or no pay while governments and private companies generate billions of dollars each year from their labor.

The program draws attention to the broader national context, where many states have attempted to address the issue in their constitutions. Despite these efforts, prisoners contend that the only tangible transformation is on paper, emphasizing the need for a more profound and substantive reevaluation of prison labor practices.

Join us as we navigate these critical conversations, seeking to raise awareness, encourage dialogue, and advocate for meaningful change within our criminal justice system.

About the Justice 101 Series:
Justice 101 is a new series brought to you by the Center for Justice Education at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site where we examine the history of the justice system in America from our founding to today and the impact it has on our society, citizens, and world.

Once a month, we invite special guests to foster dialogue about a different topic in criminal justice. Justice 101 programs take place virtually via Zoom, and each is 45 minutes long (30-minute program plus 15-minute Q&A). You can join us live at the times listed, or watch the programs back anytime on YouTube.

Click here for a full list of upcoming Justice 101 programs.

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