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Slavery in the CNMI

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Northern Marianas International School students are amazed to learn in their study of American history that 2019 marks the 400th year since slavery began in the United States. They are surprised to learn that the Declaration of Independence did not materialize until more than 100 years later and that it did not include consideration of the plight of the slaves. 

The students are thrilled to learn that a century later the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves and led to the banishment of slavery in the United States. However. they are astounded to learn that the practice of slavery is allowed and alive in the CNMI. When a court convicts a person of a crime, that person may be treated as a slave throughout her/his incarceration. Even though the person pays her debt by fine and serving a sentence and probation, the long-term effects keep the person from contributing to our tight-knit community and, thereby, makes every sentence a life sentence, given the impact on voting and finding employment. 

The students are inspired to learn that the Office of the Governor, through its authority to grant pardons, can emancipate and free those convicted. 

John B. Joyner, Ph.D.
Principal, NMIS
Marianas Business Plaza

John B. Joyner, Ph.D.

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