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The Problem of Felon Disenfranchisement

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Beaker, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Almost every state has a statute that restricts the voting of ex-felons (and current ones). They've always been around, but a recent report demonstrates that those disenfranchised because of criminal records has risen 9 percent since 2004 (the statistics are of 2010). 1 in 40! U.S. adults (2.5 percent of the voting population) are now disenfranchised because of past felonies.

    The full report is here (http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/fd_State_Level_Estimates_of_Felon_Disen_2010.pdf), but here's the quick summary:

    The Times published an editorial yesterday: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/opinion/disenfranchised-felons.html

    The Times is right. States already face immense difficulties re-integrating former prisoners into society, and voting restrictions certainly don't help.

    2.5 percent doesn't sound like a big number, but it's huge and frankly somewhat disturbing. These restrictions are only in place because of tradition, and it's time to soften them.
  2. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    It's absolutely absurd, and in my mind, should be unconstitutional. Not sure offhand if the Supreme Court has ever addressed the issue, though.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I've actually seen numbers that suggest that 1 in 30 or 1 in 35 Americans is either in prison or on parole.

    I think the bigger question is why do we have rates of incarceration that blow away the rate of any other western country in the world (*cough cough* drug laws)?
  4. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    I've never actually read the case and hardly knew anything about it, but felon disenfranchisement laws were held constitutional in Richardson v. Ramirez, 418 U.S. 24 (1974).


    Apparently the Court held strict scrutiny not applicable to felon disenfranchisement laws.

  5. Amy

    Amy Well-Known Member

    There have also been challenges arguing that the state laws violate the Voting Rights Act but the Supreme Court declined to review when it had the opportunity a couple of years ago.
  6. Lieslntx

    Lieslntx Active Member

    My first, easy answer is that people should stop being felons.

    But Ragu brings up a good point. Our incarceration rates are staggering.
  7. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    But hey, let's keep sending possessors of a few rocks of crack to prison for 10 years. And three-time shoplifters go for life.

    Big Penitentia demands it ... and so does its benefactors.
  8. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Then there's the matter of Florida 2000 when so many people -- enough to swing the election Gore's way -- were barred from voting because of nonexistent felony convictions.
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    You can rape someone and spend less time in prison than if you're caught selling weed. What a country!
  10. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    The three strike rule? That's stupid.
  11. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Or if you're Kobe Bryant, you can spend NO TIME AT ALL.

    No wonder he loves Colorado.
  12. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Maybe people should quit committing felonies?
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