The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

It Wasn’t Even Close

W. Scott Cole

Posted on November 7, 2018 14:12

2 users

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about an amendment to the Colorado State Constitution that was placed on the ballot to remove the words “except as punishment for crime” from the section prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude. The results are in.

The issue was not without controversy. The day before the election, someone placed a large pile of campaign flyers in the yard of a man who was very active in campaigning in support of the amendment and set it on fire. The police are investigating, but, as usual, nobody saw anything, even though it happened in the middle of the day. Whatever happened to civil disagreement in politics?

This was the second time the amendment was on the ballot. In 2016, it failed by one percentage point. The blame for it’s failure was placed on the wording of the amendment. Many people said afterward they left the question blank, not voting either way, because the wording was too confusing.

This time, the wording was very clear, leaving no doubt of it’s intent and the amendment had the support of the ACLU and the Colorado State Legislature. It did not get much coverage in the media; no more than a few very short news articles that I think was used as filler more than anything else. The lack of coverage is probably not surprising considering that yesterday we also elected the first openly gay governor in history.

In spite of all that, the people of Colorado can be proud. They have started something that may quietly resound throughout the nation in the years to come. Slavery and involuntary servitude is now prohibited in this state for any reason, including as punishment for a crime. It passed in what can only be called a landslide. The vote was 65% in favor to 35% against.

What this means for sentences to community service remains to be seen, but the Department of Corrections is already pushing back, saying work in every prison in the state is voluntary. I guess it would depend on your definition of voluntary, but to me, a state law that requires the Department of Corrections to put every able-bodied inmate to doing the work for which they are best suited removes “voluntary” from the equation.

Additionally, refusal to work is a violation of the state Code of Penal Discipline. Violation of that rule leads to up to a month in segregation and a loss of good time. So I guess the DOC’s definition of “voluntary” would mean that you can be punished for not volunteering to work.

The battle over this could be interesting and it remains to be seen what it will take for inmates to receive just compensation for their labor. I also cringe at the thought of a little known statute that allows the DOC to charge inmates for their incarceration in certain circumstances. I can envision them expanding those “certain circumstances” to include every inmate and then charging them a set rate for rent, utilities, food and clothing and in so doing bringing inmate pay back down to the slave wages of 60 cents a day that they receive now.

Prison slavery is now prohibited, but it seems the real war is just beginning.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on November 7, 2018 14:12

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: The Blaze

American prisoners will go on strike this week to demand wide-ranging living reforms in correctional facilities nationwide....

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest