Legislators approve resolution to completely prohibit slavery in Utah Constitution

By Emily Ashcraft Mar 13, 2019, 8:04pm MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A resolution to make slavery and involuntary servitude illegal in Utah passed unanimously through the Legislature Wednesday.

The Utah constitution does prohibit slavery, but it adds a clause that says “except as punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

The bill sponsored, Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, would remove that clause making slavery completely illegal according to the state constitution. Hollins said in a committee meeting this clause was added to the U.S. Constitution to fill a labor shortage by leasing out prisoners. The language currently remains in the U.S. constitution and constitutions for other states.

The resolution was amended to add language clarifying the change would not affect community service through the criminal justice system.

A ballot measure will be presented in the 2020 election, and the change to the state constitution will be made if it is approved by a majority of voters.