Call to Action: Abolish Prison Slavery

Members of Nassau, Witherspoon and Westminster Presbyterian Churches are creating a coalition of faith groups in Central NJ who are deeply concerned about an exception that was written into the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (in 1874).

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except for those convicted of a crime.  We view this exception as morally wrong. It perpetuates the legacy of slavery itself in the form of demeaning involuntary servitude in our prisons.  In the long term, it is socially destructive, since the formerly incarcerated are returned to society impoverished and demoralized rather than rehabilitated.

A number of states copied the language of the U.S. 13th Amendment and its inhuman “exception” into their state constitutions. New Jersey does not have such language in its constitution. Nonetheless, our prison system takes advantage of that exception in its use of involuntary servitude.

A diverse group of seven states have now voted to remove that exception through citizen referendums. Rhode Island recently set an example in 2022 by adding this language to its state constitution:

Slavery shall not be permitted in this state.

The New Jersey bills (download and read them below) are similarly worded.

We are calling on the NJ State Legislature to quickly pass Senate Bill SCR135 and Assembly Bill ACR125 which would put a constitutional amendment before NJ voters in November 2024. This bill would explicitly forbid slavery or involuntary servitude in the state, including for conviction of a crime.

Please join us in this urgent effort and contact your NJ state legislators to urge that these bills be passed.

Search for your State Representatives by town:

NJ Legislature (link)

Mailing Addresses

New Jersey Senate
State House
P.O. Box 099
Trenton, NJ 08625-0099
New Jersey General Assembly
State House
P.O. Box 098
Trenton, NJ 08625-0098


Nassau: Patti Daley (Email)

Witherspoon:  Barbara Flythe (Email)

Westiminster:   Karen Hernandez-Granzen  (Email)

Learn more

Abolish Prison Slavery NJ (link)