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Slavery - Contemporary Issues Surrounding Slavery

servitude victims ship camps

Notions of slavery in the United States have expanded to include any situation in which one person controls the life, liberty, and fortune of another person. All forms of slavery are now widely recognized as inherently immoral and thoroughly evil. Slavery still occurs in various forms, but when it does, accused offenders are aggressively prosecuted. Federal statutes punish by fine or imprisonment the enticement of per sons into slavery (18 U.S.C.A. § 1583), and the holding to or selling of persons into INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE (§ 1584). In addition, whoso ever builds a ship for slave carriage, serves on a ship carrying slaves, or owns a slave-carrying ship will be fined or imprisoned under 18 U.S.C.A. §§ 1582, 1586, and 1587, respectively.

The statute 18 U.S.C.A. § 1581 prohibits peonage, which is involuntary servitude for the payment of a debt. Labor camps are perhaps the most common violators of the law against peon age. The operators of some labor camps keep victims for work in fields through impoverished conditions, threats, acts of violence, and alcohol consumption. Offenders often provide rudi mentary shelter to migrant workers and demand work in return, which can constitute involun tary servitude. An individual can also be con victed of sale into involuntary servitude for delivering victims under FALSE PRETENSES to such labor camps.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of the debate surrounding slavery related to movements urging the U.S. government to pay reparations to descendants of slaves. Supporters of this movement suggest that cash payments made to these descendants is justified to compensate the victims of slavery for years of hardship, harm, and indignities. Local governments in such cities as Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland have urged Congress to consider this form of payment. Opponents of reparations note that the costs of reparations, if given to the extent that some supporters urge, would cost the federal government trillions of dollars. More over, many critics question how these cash payments would be made and how recipients would be identified for receiving them.

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