BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A line in the state’s constitution has Baton Rouge Democratic Representative, Edmond Jordan preparing legislation to change it.
When the Legislative session begins, House Bill 196 will be introduced seeking to make all forms of slavery in Louisiana illegal.
“Cruelty and exploitation, largely against black and brown people is completely inseparable from our history of slavery, it’s modern day slavery” said Promise of Justice Initiative organizer, Michael Cahoon.
Article 1, Section 3: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or political ideas or affiliations. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime.”
“Anyone of good conscious should want to see this go away. While some might consider it brave or controversial, in fact it’s probably embarrassing that we haven’t tackled this before today” said Jordan.
The current language allows for the use of unpaid labor in prisons something supporters of the proposed bill call unfair.
“Prisoners make up tax bases in cities and you can’t tell me that’s any different from slavery” said Baton Rouge’s NAACP Chapter President, Eugene Collins
Jordan said, he hopes that the public and Legislators support his bill to end something he said should never have been in place to begin with.
“You know slavery came to Louisiana in the early 1700’s and was supposed to be done away with in 1863, but yet here it is 2021 and we still have this on the books” said Jordan.
Similar efforts have been taken on in other states.
If this makes it through the Legislature, it will be placed on the November 2022 ballot when the next state-wide election is held.
The state needs more than 50% of voter approval to change the constitution.