Tennessee Amendment 3: Voters will decide on expressly banning slavery, including inside of prisons

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  • Tennessee Amendment 3 would change language in the state constitution to expressly ban slavery.

  • Proponents argue that the amendment is necessary to reflect the state's current values.

  • There is no organized campaign against the proposal, according to Ballotpedia.

A "yes" on Tennessee Amendment 3 would expressly ban slavery in Tennessee — including in prisons.


Ballot measure details

Known as the Remove Slavery as Punishment for Crime from Constitution Amendment, Tennessee Amendment 3 would eliminate text in the state Constitution that says "slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this state."

The amendment would replace the previous language with: "Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime."

Support and opposition

United Tennessee Yes on 3 is leading the campaign in support of the measure. Supporters argue that Tennessee needs to make the change to reflect the state's current values.

"Our constitution should reflect our values, and it's important that we not have any loopholes that will say in any circumstance slavery is permissible. I think it's an ugly part of our history that needs to be completely put to bed," state Sen. Raumesh Akbari, a Democrat, said to Fox 17.

There is no organized campaign against the proposal, according to Ballotpedia, but opponents of the measure argue that slavery has never been allowed.

"Tennessee's Constitution has expressly prohibited slavery since it was first adopted in 1870, so it's unnecessary to add this amendment to the state constitution. It will only confuse Tennessee voters by leading them to believe slavery is allowed under the current constitution, which it is not," state Sen. Joey Hensley, a Republican, said to Fox 17.

The money race

The proposal has seen about $107,000 in support contributions and $0 in opposition contributions, according to Ballotpedia.

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