Why Felons Deserve the Right to Vote

R.A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Mon Feb 7 19:16:47 PST 2005


The New York Times

February 7, 2005

Why Felons Deserve the Right to Vote
n a watershed moment for the debate over whether convicted felons should be
allowed to vote, the American Correctional Association has issued a welcome
statement calling on states to end the practice of withholding voting
rights from parolees and people who have completed their prison terms.
Noting that society expects people to become responsible members of society
once they are released from prison, the organization, which represents
corrections officials, also called on states to cut through the confusing
thicket of disenfranchisement laws by explaining clearly to inmates how
they get their rights back after completing their sentences.

 Some five million Americans are barred from the polls by a bewildering
patchwork of state laws that strip convicted felons of the right to vote,
often temporarily, but sometimes for life. These laws serve no correctional
purpose - and may actually contribute to recidivism by keeping ex-offenders
and their families disengaged from the civic mainstream. This notion is
clearly supported by data showing that former offenders who vote are less
likely to return to jail. This lesson has long since been absorbed by
democracies abroad, some valuing the franchise so much that they take
ballot boxes right to the prisons.

 Several states are now reconsidering laws barring convicted felons from
voting. In Maryland, for instance, the legislature is considering a bill
that would eliminate a lifetime ban that remains in place for some
offenders. The Maryland bill should pass. And other states should follow

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

More information about the cypherpunks-legacy mailing list