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Measure Details

No Exception to Involuntary Servitude Prohibition

Colorado Ballot Measure - Amendment T

Election: Nov. 8, 2016 (General)
Outcome: Failed

Civil Liberties and Civil Rights


Argument For


Argument Against


Exception to Involuntary Servitude Prohibition

Amendment T proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to:
‚ remove language that currently allows slavery and involuntary servitude
to be used as punishment for the conviction of a crime.

Summary and Analysis

Definitions. "Slavery," as defined by Black's Law Dictionary, is a situation in
which one person has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another
person. The U.S. Supreme Court has defined "involuntary servitude" as a condition of
servitude in which one person is forced to work for another person by the use or threat
of physical restraint or physical injury, or by the use or threat of coercion through law
or the legal process.

U.S. and Colorado Constitutions. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
was passed in 1865 to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as
punishment for a crime for which a person has been found guilty. The amendment
gives the U.S. Congress the power to enforce the amendment through legislation.

Similar to the U.S. Constitution, under Article II, Section 26 of the Colorado
Constitution, slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except as punishment
for the conviction of a crime. Amendment T removes this exception.

Offender work requirements in the criminal justice system. The courts have
ruled that work requirements resulting from a conviction of a crime are allowable under
the above provisions of the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions. Offender work
requirements currently used in the Colorado criminal justice system may take the
following forms:

• Prison work requirements. All eligible offenders are expected to work
unless assigned to an approved education or training program.
Offenders are not required to work, but those who refuse to participate
may face a reduction in or loss of privileges or a delayed parole
eligibility date.

• Community service. A judge may sentence certain offenders to work a
specific number of hours providing community service. These programs
emphasize individual restitution for offenses through contributions to the
community. In some cases, community service is a condition of
– 1 –Blue Book

Probation. The courts require that an offender sentenced to probation
maintain suitable employment and/or pursue employment-related
education or vocational training.
For information on those issue committees that support or oppose the
measures on the ballot at the November 8, 2016, election, go to the
Colorado Secretary of State's elections center web site hyperlink for
ballot and initiative information:

Measure Text

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the removal of the exception to the prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude when used as punishment for persons duly convicted of a crime?

Yes ( ) No ( )

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