Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Voting Rights

From Chris Bowers

Felony disenfranchisement laws have been on the books for decades. With the massive upswing in the prisoner population over the past twenty-five years, these laws have contributed to a systematic disenfranchisement of minority communities. As the Sentencing Project notes:

"Nationally, more than four million Americans are denied the right to vote as a result of laws that prohibit voting by felons or ex-felons. In 48 states (with the exception of Maine and Vermont) and the District of Columbia prisoners cannot vote, in 35 states felons on probation or parole are disenfranchised, and in 14 states a felony conviction can result in a lifetime ban long after the completion of a sentence. This fundamental obstacle to participation in democratic life is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system, resulting in an estimated 13% of black men unable to vote."

It is not a coincidence that the rise in the prison population was concurrent with the rise in conservative politics nationally. By disenfranchising millions of potential Democratic voters, conservatives titled the electorate in their favor. However, these laws are now being challenged

more at mydd....


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