Saturday, June 03, 2006


In many states, anyone convicted of a felony ("Crimes which are commonly considered to be felonies include, but are not limited to: aggravated assault, arson, burglary, murder, and rape") must wait until they have completed their prison sentence, parole and/or probation before they can vote. Rhode Island; among a few other states; is looking to change that law and make it so felons can vote as soon as their prison sentence is completed...

Under current Rhode Island law, convicted felons can't vote until they have completed parole and probation, a date thirty years away for convicted felon Andres Idarraga. So he is speaking out to support a state ballot initiative in November that would allow felons to vote after they leave prison.

Its passage would "send a message that we're willing to embrace you, to afford second chances, instead of every step along the way putting up roadblocks," he says.

Rhode Island is one of several states where lawmakers and advocacy groups are working to change laws that deny many felons the right to vote.

You know your party is desperate when you’re looking to the prison vote...

An estimated 5.3 million people cannot vote because of a felony conviction, says Ryan King, policy analyst for the Sentencing Project, a research group that favors changes in prison and sentencing rules. Thirty-six states deny that right to felons while they're on parole, and thirty-one of them also bar voting by felons on probation.

King and other advocates of changing those rules say the restrictions punish people who have served their time and disproportionately affect the poor and people of color. "In states where there are 20% to 30% of African-Americans who are prohibited from voting, that's a significant portion of the population not being represented by their state or federal legislators," King says."

Some lawmakers believe the restrictions should stay in place. "I don't believe we need to have a voting bloc that comes out of prison angry at the sheriff's department ... and angry at the prosecutor's office," says Tennessee State Rep. Gerald McCormick, a Chattanooga Republican. "I don't think its right to have them on the same level as people who've paid their taxes and played by the rules."

I have a hard time believing that convicted felons are the kind of people that are running out to vote anyway, they're too busy committing crimes. But, what do you think? Disenfranchisement (say it three times fast) or an appropriate punishment?

See what the voting restrictions are in your state.


Blogger Season said...

There is no way they should be able to vote! I don't see why anyone would want them to.

3/6/06 14:47  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I'm not sure how I feel.

3/6/06 16:27  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

I believe if you’re presently incarcerated it's as simple as a consequence of not keeping your "contract with society".

It's not how they'll vote, but why should they have the right to vote.

I'd be all for when a prisoner is released once again allowing them to vote...the problem I see is that once this is seceded the left will wheedle in their agenda even more. First, let convicted felons get the vote then it's - "Why can't the felons in prison vote either"?

They hack away at our societal concepts until they have chipped our moral fiber completely away.

3/6/06 22:51  

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