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S.J.Res. 81 (116th): A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to prohibit the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime.

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About the resolution

Think that America abolished slavery completely? Think again.


In 1865, mere months after the end of the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment formally abolished slavery. Or did it? Although that’s what is often taught in school, the amendment actually left a loophole allowing slavery “as a punishment for crime.” What it actually banned was slavery for any other reason, notably the color of one’s skin.

The result is that in practice, compelled forced labor for no wages — or for less than one dollar an hour — is the norm for prisoners in many states. As of 2017, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, the highest that any state paid its prisoners was Nevada at up to $5.15 per hour. This, even as the federal minimum wage for …

Sponsor and status

Jeff Merkley

Sponsor. Senator for Oregon. Democrat.

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Last Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Length: 2 pages
Dec 2, 2020
116th Congress (2019–2021)
Died in a previous Congress

This resolution was introduced on December 2, 2020, in a previous session of Congress, but it did not receive a vote.


4 Cosponsors (3 Democrats, 1 Independent)



Dec 2, 2020

Bills and resolutions are referred to committees which debate the bill before possibly sending it on to the whole chamber.

S.J.Res. 81 (116th) was a joint resolution in the United States Congress.

A joint resolution is often used in the same manner as a bill. If passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and signed by the President, it becomes a law. Joint resolutions are also used to propose amendments to the Constitution.

Resolutions numbers restart every two years. That means there are other resolutions with the number S.J.Res. 81. This is the one from the 116th Congress.

This joint resolution was introduced in the 116th Congress, which met from Jan 3, 2019 to Jan 3, 2021. Legislation not passed by the end of a Congress is cleared from the books.

How to cite this information.

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“S.J.Res. 81 — 116th Congress: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to prohibit ….” 2020. August 13, 2022 <>

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