Felony Disenfranchisement Essay

1931 words - 8 pages

Should Felons be Allowed to Vote? 1
In this essay, I will be in support of felons having their voting rights restored after serving their prison sentences and completing all terms and conditions of probation or parole successfully. My reasons for supporting the restoration of felons’ voting rights are because voting is a “right” under the Constitution of the United States. After a person serves their prison sentence; some ex-felons have the ability to be and remain rehabilitated and live productive lives. Also, the laws are changing making it easier to be charged as a felon. Most of the people that are against felons voting claim that ...view middle of the document...

Should Felons be Allowed to Vote? 2
Disenfranchisement should be abandoned as a draconian and costly practice of a pre-democratic era (p. 408). Disenfranchisement is the hardest civil sanction imposed by a democratic society. When brought beneath this axe, the disenfranchised is served from the body politic, and condemned to the lowest form of citizenship, where voiceless is at the ballot box…the disinherited must sit idly by while others elect his civic leaders and while others choose the fiscal and governmental policies which will govern him and his family. Such a shadowy form of citizenship must not be imposed lightly (McLaughlin v. Canton, 1951).
While in prison, most American citizens are barred from voting. Many states do, in fact, allow felons their right to vote after completion of their sentencing. Two states, Maine and Vermont allow citizens the right to vote while in prison. However, a significant number of states only allow some felons the right to gain back their voting rights, and three states, Florida, Arizona, and Virginia permanently disenfranchise felons. Furthermore, it can be argued that disenfranchisement is a civil rights issue due to the number of minorities incarcerated. The right to vote is a constitutionally provided right.
Voting rights and disqualifications are enforced according to state laws. Most states do offer felons a path to reinstating their voting rights. In twenty states, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, people with felony convictions are allowed to vote after completion of their sentences. In those twenty states people who are in prison, on parole, and on probation cannot

Should Felons be Allowed to Vote? 3
vote. Four states, California, Colorado, Connecticut, and New York, do not allow prisoners and parolees to vote, but people with any criminal past, even those on probation, can vote. Thirteen states, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah, only disenfranchise felons while they are in prison. Everyone else, including felons, parolees, and those on probation are allowed to vote. In two states, New Hampshire and Maine, everyone has a right to vote, including prisoners.
There are eleven states, Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming, which make it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for some felons to regain their right to vote. Most of these states do not allow criminals who committed serious felonies...

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