Slavery as a punishment for crimes is in the books in Ohio

Slavery as a punishment is still legal in the state of Ohio. Even though the federal government ended slavery over 150 years, the 13th Amendment allowed Ohio to keep the option of slavery as a punishment.

What We Know:

  • Ohio is not the only state that allows slavery as a punishment. Minnesota’s constitution also still allows slavery. However, lawmakers are trying to change that.
  • State Representative and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Stephanie Howse told CNN that “Most legislators, even ourselves didn’t even realize that it was still here in our constitution.”
  • Along with many representatives, members of the community were unaware of their state’s constitution.

  • On Juneteenth, Ohio State Sen. Cecil Thomas said he will introduce a “joint resolution to remove the longstanding exception for slavery from the state constitution”. Even though there has been no known cases of modern-day slavery in Ohio, the wording in the constitution about slavery matters.

  • Ohio representatives are hoping that they can change their constitution and place it on a vote just like Colorado did to abolish all types of slavery.
  • Sen. Thomas said the following on his online statement Friday:

“As we embark on making structural changes to our laws and policies that adversely impact people of color, it is important that Ohio lawmakers stand together to eliminate this painful reminder of a ruinous time in the history of our country.”

  • If the new preposition passes by three-fifths of the Senate and the House, it can be placed on the general election ballot in November.
  • The fight has been ongoing to remove the “offensive” slavery references since 2016 by another Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece but unfortunately, the bill was not successful and fell through the cracks.

There are about sixteen state constitutions who have the similar language on slavery but the people are confident that this will change on upcoming elections.