by Editor Nube Brown
Did you know that language in our state constitution allows for slavery/involuntary servitude (forced labor) as punishment for a crime? Did you know there is a bill (ACA3, Kamlager) moving through the legislature to allow voters to decide whether or not they want to amend this language? Did you know on Wednesday, June 23, 2022, you were denied the right to vote on this issue by the Department of Finance citing cost? What say you?
Below is the beginning of an ongoing conversation between Editor Nube Brown and Jamilia Land and Sam Brown, showing how ACA3 began and why, and what is needed from the People moving forward – with the purpose of building the movement to end slavery once and for all!
Samual Brown: “My name is Samual Nathaniel Brown, Co-founder of the Anti-violence, Safety and Accountability Project, ASAP. I am also the Co-chair of the California Abolition Coalition both in conjunction with my wife, Jamilia Land-Brown, and I am also the original author of the language which eventually became ACA3, the California Abolition Act.
I was told I had to go to work or else I would receive a Rules Violation Report (RVR), 115, which we consider a modern-day whip, because the traditional whip was what they used to compel people to do things against their will.
“As of today, I’ve been out of prison 182 days. I served 24 years. I did 24 years on a number of plantations throughout the state of California. Prior to getting released, I wrote this bill while I was still incarcerated, per encouragement by my wife Jamilia, when I found myself in a situation where I was told I had to go to work or else I would receive a Rules Violation Report (RVR), 115, which we consider a modern-day whip, because the traditional whip was what they used to compel people to do things against their will.
“I had a job as a healthcare facility maintenance worker. My job was to enter cells in the psyche ward and clean behind men who have smeared feces on the wall, who may have urinated all across the cell, who may have tried to commit suicide and there’s blood everywhere. In the capacity of performing my duties, I wound up being the first person in the state of California in a carceral setting that was tasked with entering inside of a cell where someone had tested positive for Covid-19, so that I could disinfect it and clean it. Prior to that, I was the first person in the state to enter inside the office where someone who worked inside of the prison, the person who brought Covid into the prison, had tested positive. And so I did it, I did the first few times, during the early stages of the pandemic when no one really knew what to expect.
“I started seeing a lot of people dying all over the world on the news and combined that with the fact I’ve had a collapsed lung, I’m also asmatic and I have a high morbidity rate for dying of Covid. I expressed to my supervisors that in the interest of my own health and safety, and just not wanting to die, that I did not feel comfortable going inside to clean, disinfect cells and going behind people who had tested positive, every single day.
“Mass incarceration is a smorgasbord for a pandemic. I said I’m not comfortable coming in here everyday, putting my life on the line, and that I will come in here every other day. They told me I cannot come every other day, I must come every day, even though they wouldn’t even come past the double doors. They told me if I didn’t go I’d receive a 115 (Rules Violation Report) for refusing to go work. For me this was extra perilous, because I was scheduled to appear before the board in close to 45 days! If you walk into the hearing with a recent 115, or 128, you’re toast! You’re going to get denied! The BPH has an underground regulation that states you have to be five years disciplinary-free at a minimum to even be considered to be released back into society.
Those denials that you could receive, if you get that 115 for not reporting to work for just one day, have derailed and destroyed and killed the hopes, dreams, aspirations and rehabilitative efforts of so many people.
“On top of that, now because of Prop 9, Marcy’s Law, the denials now start at 15 years, then if there’s mitigating circumstances they start walking it down to 10 years, then seven, five, and the lowest they can go is three years. Those denials that you could receive, if you get that 115 for not reporting to work for just one day, have derailed and destroyed and killed the hopes, dreams, aspirations and rehabilitative efforts of so many people.
“And I say that to say, I myself have thousands of hours of self-help programming, I have an AA in Social Science, an AA transfer degree in Sociology, graduated with honors, and just recently I walked the stage at Cal State L.A., graduated Magna Cum Laude with my Bachelors in Communications Studies. All of that would have been mute had I missed one day of work. I would’ve been given a 115 and the Board of Parole would’ve determined I was an unreasonable risk to society, and that my antisocial personality disorder is still persisting because I received a 115 or 128 which shows that I “cannot conform to lawful behavior.” I was also four years past my time-served date, which CDCr knew. I was not supposed to be here; I was just praying and hoping, trying to avoid all the pitfalls and traps so that I could get out.”
I would’ve been given a 115 and the Board of Parole would’ve determined I was an unreasonable risk to society, and that my antisocial personality disorder is still persisting because I received a 115 or 128 which shows that I “cannot conform to lawful behavior.”
“And what do we need the People to do?
“We need the people to begin to open their minds and open their hearts, be willing to see things differently from how you’ve seen them before. Because for Jamilia and I, we make it a point to put forth a different perspective when we’re talking about the 13th Amendment; we put forth a different perspective when we’re talking about the Civil War; we put forth a different perspective when we’re talking about the Industrial Revolution. The true Industrial Revolution was slavery, the Trans Atlantic slave trade was the true Industrial Revolution because it increased the GDP of every Western European nation to levels never before seen. Here, we moved slavery from the mainstreets of the south and made it prevalent for everyone across the nation if you could just get a person convicted for a crime.
“We definitely need people to see things differently – change your mind. In order for us to change our circumstances and change reality we need people to first change their minds, and change the way they see things, and see it for themselves.
We need the people to begin to open their minds and open their hearts, be willing to see things differently from how you’ve seen them before.
“We need to think mathematically. When you think mathematically, you make a list of the pros and you make a list of the cons, and you add them up. And whichever side has the most, you submit to it as the truth. So when we think mathematically about slavery and involuntary servitude all the evidence is there to demonstrate that this is slavery. It has never ended. The 13th Amendment makes it clear. The 13th Amendment, as everyone knows, is directly correlated to supposedly abolishing slavery, and it’s directly correlated to the Civil War. So the whole purpose of the 13th Amendment was to address slavery. The 13th Amendment makes clear that it did not end slavery, it only conditioned it. Therefore we have extended it all the way from where it was supposed to be abolished in 1865 (but really back to 1619…) … it never ended. So when you think mathematically, you see in our prison system what we have today is based on what’s written in the state constitution – we have a direct incarnation of slavery. Period.”
Jamilia Land-Brown: “If I may interject briefly. That was one of the arguments that the department of finance tried to make was that the definition of it was not defined per the constitution. But our argument is very different – that it is in fact defined in the constitution based on the words that were used. Also, one of the things that’s important in this process of getting people to think about what they value, is as we have these conversations, being mindful that people are going to deviate and take it somewhere else and we must always be mindful to bring them back to the core of what the issue is. Slavery.”
Samual Brown: “So when we talk about an Axiological Revolution, we’re talking about a radical shift in people’s values. What do you value? Axiology is the study of people’s values and how they adopt those values. The word radical just means core. So when we talk about radical change, we’re talking about a core change. And oftentimes the word radical is associated with something bad or rebellious. It’s not. It’s just really talking about an organic, grassroots from the core of the thing changed.
Here, we moved slavery from the mainstreets of the south and made it prevalent for everyone across the nation if you could just get a person convicted for a crime.
“So when we talk about an Axiological Revolution and perspective, we’re saying change the way you look at corrections; Change the way you look at rehabilitation; Change the way you look at yourself in relationship to the world and realize that you are a part of society. We all are a part of humanity, and we have the ability to evolve in our shared humanity as a collective should we choose to do so. And the only way that we can do that is by having a shared value system – One that places the lives of human beings over profit; One that places morals over profit; One that places human and moral costs over financial costs.
“Unlike the department of finance who said it’s too expensive to end slavery, we have to make it clear that that is unacceptible. There is no cost too much to end slavery, for one. And two, just as a side note, the department of finance said it would cost $1.5 billion if they had to pay incarcerated people minimum wage to do the work that they’re currently doing for free. Well, the fact of the matter is, something the department of finance failed to mention is that the work incarcerated workers provide generates $2 billion annually in goods for the prisons. Now we’re not even talking about the people who the prisons contract with – and another $9 billion in services. The support services sector of the California Department of Corrections generates $9 billion from the work that incarcerated people are doing, and they’re talking about the $1.5 billion it would cost if they had to pay people who are incarcerated. It’s already offsetting it, it’s not even a drop in the bucket compared to what they’re making on the positive side.
“If we’re talking about rehabilitation, slavery is not the best practice. If we’re talking about public safety, slavery is not the best practice. If you want to reconcile the budget, slavery is not the best practice. Corrective behavior, slavery is not the best practice.
“We have to value helping to heal human beings and letting them come back into society better than when they went in, more than we value filling the coffers of private prison corporations and people that benefit from the Prison Industrial Complex.
“So when we talk about values, we’re just trying to get people to see that slavery is not cool.”
End slavery in California,
Jamilia Land-Brown, Co-chair of California Abolition Act Coalition, Co-founder of ASAP
Samual N. Brown, Co-founder of ASAP, Co-chair of California Abolition Act Coalition
We invite you to join us to learn more about Ending Slavery (in California) by visiting:
California Abolition Act Coalition endslaveryincalifornia.org
Abolish Slavery National Network abolishslavery.us
ACLU Captive Labor Report 2022 aclu.org
Below is partial text of Senator Sydney Kamlager’s bill ACA3, but reformatted for our publication purposes:
Introduced by Assembly Member Kamlager
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Kalra, Wicks, and Lorena Gonzalez)
(Coauthors: Senators Bradford, Portantino, and Skinner)
December 18, 2020
A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by amending Section 6 of Article I thereof, relating to
involuntary servitude. slavery.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
ACA 3, as amended, Kamlager.
Involuntary servitude. Slavery. The California Constitution prohibits slavery. The California Constitution also prohibits involuntary servitude except as punishment to a crime.
This measure would remove
that exception involuntary servitude from these provisions and define slavery to include forced labor compelled by the use or threat of physical or legal coercion.
Vote: 2/3 Appropriation: no Fiscal Committee: yes Local Program: no
Resolved by the Assembly, the Senate concurring, That the Legislature of the State of California at its 2021-22 Regular Session commencing on the seventh day of December 2020, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of the State of California, that the Constitution of the State be amended as follows:
First — This measure shall be known, and may be cited, as the “End Slavery in California Act.”
Second — That Section 6 of Article I thereof is amended to read:
Slavery (a) Slavery, in any form, is prohibited. Involuntary servitude is prohibited except to punish crime.
(b) For purposes of this section, slavery includes forced labor compelled by the use or threat of physical or legal coercion.
That Section 6 of Article I thereof is amended to read: SEC. 6. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited.