I recently wrote a response to someone talking about corporations using slavery on a global scale, but I would like to post it here, because it is abhorrent and this should be changed...
The 13th amendment (which abolished slavery) actually allows slavery under one condition:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
The prison industrial complex is bigger than ever in the US, imprisoning more of our people than any country in history. More than 1 in 100 adults in the US is in jail or prison right now; in fact we've locked up half a million more people than China, whose population is 5 times the US. 75% of the prison population is not white. They receive poor medical care and rape and violence is methodically used to coerce people.
IBM, Boeing, Target, Microsoft, Motorola, Victoria's Secret, Starbucks, etc. etc. use prison labor to make billions of dollars of profit, while paying minimum wage in (some) state-run facilities (with the added bonus of not having to pay for health care for these workers) to 17-21 cents an hour in for-profit private facilities (with fluctuations inbetween or varying according to the states, yet all take a cut; usually 80%). People who are in prison who refuse to work get bad marks, ending up labeled "uncooperative" or will not get reduced sentencing.
This is the newly formed version of "slave" labor, here in the US. The government economies would take a serious hit, not to mention the businesses, if slavery was truly abolished nearly 150 years after the passing of the 13th amendment.