Community Service is Involuntary Servitude / by kevin murray

There are three basic types of involuntary community service, there is community service which must be actively performed in order to graduate high school, for instance; there is community service that is compulsory when convicted of certain crimes, such as a DUI; and there is community service which a defendant is sentenced to do at the discretion of the judge.  Let us take each one of these in turn and discuss them.


The Bethlehem Area School District requires that their high school students complete sixty hours of community service in order to graduate and to receive a diploma.   This requirement was adjudicated and upheld by the Courts as to not be in violation of either the 1st Amendment, and somewhat surprisingly not in violation of the 13th Amendment which states: " Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted…"   I'm not a lawyer, nor do I consider myself an expert of the law, but common sense, itself, dictates that not being able to receive your diploma when you have achieved all the attributes to receive a diploma, except for involuntary servitude, is a specific punishment, in which you have not been duly convicted of anything.  What I'm not arguing is the merits of performing voluntary community service, which may be quite commendable, but the compulsion to do so in order to receive your diploma.  This compulsory community service is wrong, it may be well-intentioned, but it could also be easily amended to providing for those who perform this community service voluntarily a certificate and the accolades for doing so, as opposed to making it a condition to receive a diploma for attending a public school.


The second type of compulsory community service is being duly convicted of a crime, such as a DUI which is often a misdemeanor, and then having mandated per a court of law that within that conviction there is also a minimum compulsory community service, such as forty hours for having committed the crime.  Our 6th Amendment gives us the right to counsel, so for those that can afford an attorney, we can hire one.  However, for indigent or ignorant defendants, you may be legally entitled to a court-appointed attorney but doing so may entail filling out paperwork, disclosing income in which you may end up having to pay some amount of money for the court-appointed attorney, and petitioning the court for said attorney.  You may find yourself, therefore, without an attorney and duly convicted of said crime and forced to perform community service as part of your sentencing.   The crux of the matter really comes down to the fact that the court sentences you to community service because it recognizes that to the general public excessive jail time for misdemeanor DUI convictions is unpalatable but somehow community service isn't.


The third type of compulsory community service is when the sentencing terms are left to the discretion of the judge and as part of the sentence the judge imposes community service upon the convicted defendant.  The issue here is that the defendant should have the option to refuse community service as a punishment, as long as he is also cognizant of the alternative punishment(s) that will take its place for having done so.  The decision to reject community service should be left to the defendant, who may or may not find involuntary servitude to be acceptable as opposed to a different punishment.


Involuntary servitude is not the American way, it's an abomination, and yet another example of how the State imposesunjustifiably its will against the people.