The Thirteenth Amendment “freed the slaves,” as they say. It’s enactment was a glorious achievement for the rule of law in the United States. But the Thirteenth Amendment’s promise of equal access to freedom is compromised by its own fatal flaw, so to speak: the “punishment exception.”

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Library of Congress. There is much to be said about this. For now, suffice it to say that it would be difficult to fully appreciate the history and nature of criminal justice in the United States without having at least some knowledge of the Thirteenth Amendment, its origins and its interpretation by courts over time.

Through #FreeThe13th we’ll examine this and other topics that we find at the intersection of criminal justice, civil rights, and human rights.