Senate State Government Committee to Hold Hearing on Constitutional Amendment

Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) nixed 'Freeholder.'

Senate State Government Committee to Hold Hearing on Constitutional Amendment


Trenton – The Senate State Government Committee will hold a public hearing this coming Monday, concerning a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution which would prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude. The hearing will be held in person on Monday, October 19, 2020 at 12:00 PM in Committee Room 6, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, New Jersey.


The amendment, SCR-96, would ensure that no prisoner in New Jersey would be involuntarily forced into labor, even if the labor performed by the prisoner would be compensated.


Also on Monday, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will be holding a hearing to discuss issues currently confronting the state’s utility companies, including their response to the power outages caused by Tropical Storm Isais. The hearing will be held at 1:00 PM in Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, New Jersey. Additionally, the Senate Higher Education Committee will be meeting at 10:00 AM in Committee Room 4. Their agenda includes S-2743, which would codify the Community College Opportunity Grant Program into state law, as well as S-2739, S-2793 and S- 2892, three bills which aim to improve diversity and inclusion on college campuses.


The constitutional amendment, SCR-96, is necessary because the New Jersey Constitution does not include any language concerning slavery or involuntary servitude. This constitutional amendment would expressly prohibit them as punishment for a crime, which is allowed under the United States Constitution.


“Folks in the New Jersey prison system are coerced into involuntary servitude, and if they don’t comply, they are often severely punished or retaliated against,” said Senator Ronald Rice (D-Essex). “We must improve the treatment of those incarcerated in our prison system and guarantee that no one is forced to preform work, whether they are being paid two dollars an hour or not. Our corrections system continues to tarnish our nation’s principles but this amendment would set New Jersey on the right path to finally ending involuntary servitude in our state once and for all.”


“The United States was founded on slavery and white supremacy and we as a nation have yet to come to terms with that reality. While chattel slavery was abolished under the 13th Amendment, our prisons continue to serve as modern-day plantations with predominantly Black and brown individuals working for cents on the dollar,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Under our constitutional amendment, prisons in New Jersey would no longer be able to force incarcerated individuals to work in dismal conditions for minimal pay

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