By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 3, the proposed California constitutional amendment to end involuntary servitude in the state, cleared two hurdles last week.
The state senate’s Appropriations Committee voted 5-0 to send the proposed amendment to the Senate floor for a final vote. ACA 3 passed out of the Election and Constitutional Amendments Committee with 4-1 vote three days earlier.
“(Thanks) to everyone that called in support — glad we can all agree that slavery and involuntary servitude have no place in our constitution … ” Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), who authored ACA 3, posted on her Twitter page.
The state assembly voted 59-0 March 21 to approve ACA 3, but the Senate must approve it by the end of June for it to make the November ballot. California voters could then vote on whether the clause remains in the state’s constitution.
Article 1, Section 6 of the California Constitution currently allows the practice of involuntary servitude as a means of punishing crime.
More than 94,000 Californians currently incarcerated in state prisons have no practical ability to refuse work assigned to them. African Americans account for 28% of the prison population and less than 6% of California’s overall population.
Colorado, Utah and Nebraska have voted to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude. Initiatives in all three states passed by bipartisan vote and were placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of legislators, according to organizers of the Abolish Slavery National Network (ASNN).
If the California Senate passes ACA 3, a campaign to educate Californians about successes in Colorado in 2018 and Utah and Nebraska in 2020 would be necessary, said Max Parthas, ASNN co-director.
Samual Nathaniel Brown, who was released from California State Prison, Los Angeles County (Lancaster) in December after serving 24 years, contributed to writing ACA 3.
“People need to know that California for so long has been the largest plantation state in the nation. Mass incarceration looms large here,” Brown told The OBSERVER in March. “This is not the Deep South. Forced labor is big business here. Taking (involuntary servitude language) off the books will make the modern-day Black Codes ineffective. It will no longer feed the machine as it once did all the way back to 1865.”