The Florida Constitutional Convention of 1865 also passed a special provision instituting the first vagrancy law of the peace or circuit court, which included imprisonment, fines, or being sold into indentured servitude for as long as 12 months for “vagrancy”—a purposefully nebulous term. 

Vagrancy laws allowed for those without a home or employment to be arrested, imprisoned, and faced with up to one year of forced labor. Further, these laws inflicted significant generational harm. Statutes permitted children of parents who were arrested on vagrancy charges to be taken in as “apprentices”—forced to provide free labor.

In the aftermath of the Civil War and the fall of the Confederacy came the passage of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished the institution of slavery. Florida, along with several Southern state legislatures comprised of former slaveholders and ex-confederates, passed a set of measures that were designed to govern Black people within the context of their newly given freedom and rights, which were known as Black Codes. These laws kept the legacy of slavery alive by curtailing the rights of Black Floridians and criminalizing poverty by instituting laws that targeted Black people and imposing hefty criminal fees as a punishment. These implications are still present today, as Black Floridians continued to carry the brunt of criminal fines and fees.