End the Exception: Abolish Slavery in Prisons

The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except for persons “duly convicted” of a crime – was a compromise that was made with the Confederacy in 1865. As a result, those incarcerated in many states across the country are still subject to involuntary servitude. As mass incarceration disproportionately criminalizes Black people, slavery still persists in the United States and targets the descendants of its original victims. There is a growing movement of people and organizations dedicated to ending this exception.

On September 17, 2022, Mural Arts Philadelphia hosted “Except for Me,” an initiative from the End the Exception coalition that spotlights those at the center of modern—and legal—slavery under the 13th Amendment: incarcerated people. Thirteen stories of formerly incarcerated people were installed as part of a multimedia wall that showcased the stories of those legally enslaved in the United States.

The third phase of the project centered on an impactful public art installation, in the People’s Plaza at Independence Historic National Park. Within the exhibition, the effect of the exception clause is narrated through drawings, paintings, and collages by currently incarcerated artists. Alongside these individual perspectives is a diagrammatic mural outlining the larger system of prison labor.

Yuri contributed art to this exhibition, in collaboration with Rejon Taylor.

End the Exception.pdf