Senator Says It's Time To "End Slavery" In Florida

Prisoners pick up trash as part of the B

Photo: AFP

A couple of members of Florida's Legislature say a form of slavery is alive and the state prison system.

State Rep. Dianne Hart spoke from the Capitol on Wednesday about her bill that would put a proposed Constitutional amendment before voters to end involuntary servitude.

"HJR 39 will not prevent incarcerated individuals who want to work from working, instead it will ensure that these individuals are compensated."

The Tampa Democrat says inmates are being assigned to community work squads and Florida Department of Transportation road squads without pay, while other Southern states have ended the process.

She says the University of Florida WAS the largest user of forced labor, using more than 156,000 hours since 2015.

"While they have formally ended their contract with the Department of Corrections to forced labor, Florida Gulf Coast University continues to use forced labor, as they have since 1995."

West Palm Beach Democrat Bobby Powell has filed a companion bill in the Senate. During the press conference Wednesday, he put it this way.

"It is time that we end slavery here in the state of Florida."

The legislators have filed their bills ahead of the 2022 Legislative session that gets underway in January, in hopes that it passes and goes on a ballot later in the year.

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