Slavery as a punishment for crimes is in the books in Ohio and lawmakers have been trying to change that for years

The State of Ohio Capitol building in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

(CNN)Over 150 years ago, the federal government put an end to practically all forms of slavery, but the 13th Amendment allowed an exception -- slavery as a punishment for crimes.

And while many states have made moves to abolish that clause altogether, Ohio, along with several other states, still have this exception in their constitutions.
Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio says: "There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime."
"Most legislators, even ourselves didn't even realize that it was still here in our constitution," Ohio State Representative and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Stephanie Howse told CNN affiliate WEWS.
    "The more that Ohioans know and understand what our responsibility is to right the wrongs of the past, the more willingly we'll be able to hold elected legislators accountable," Rep. Howse told CNN on Wednesday.
    On Friday, also known as Juneteenth, Ohio State Sen. Cecil Thomas, a Democrat and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus member, said in an online statement that he will introduce a joint resolution to remove the longstanding exception for slavery from the state constitution.
    The resolution would delete the phrase, "unless for the punishment of crime."
    The amendment language is in the process of being written and Sen. Thomas will have it formally introduced with the clerk within the next week, Rep. Howse told CNN.
    "Words matter," Sen. Thomas wrote in the online statement. "The majority of Ohioans would be shocked to learn that this exception is still in our governing document."
    "As we embark on making structural changes to our laws and policies that adversely impact people of color, it is important that Ohio lawmakers stand together to eliminate this painful reminder of a ruinous time in the history of our country," he wrote.
    If the amendment is passed by three-fifths of both the state Senate and the House, the resolution would be placed as an issue on the general election ballot in November, according to the online statement.
      In 2016, Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece, a Democrat representing Cincinnati and then President of The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, introduced a bill to remove the "archaic" and "offensive" slavery references from the constitution, but the bill fell on deaf ears and nothing was done to move the amendment forward, Rep. Howse said.
      "No slavery, no exceptions," Reece said in a 2016 online statement. "Over 150 years after our nation abolished slavery, there can be no acceptable circumstance for slavery in our state, and our constitution must reflect that."