Felon Disenfranchisement

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Disenfranchisement Today:
A Fitting Punishment or a Way to Oppress the Lower Class
Laura Winant
Virginia Commonwealth University

Author’s Note:
Laura E. Winant, Department of Criminal Justice, Virginia Commonwealth University This paper is an extra credit assignment for Criminological Theory under Professor Morris. Contact: Winantle@mymail.vcu.edu

Abstract
Felon disenfranchisement is a serious issue in the United States. It removes a person’s right to vote after incarceration. It is sometimes speculated that disenfranchisement racially discriminates. This is often thought to be true because the majority of those who are disenfranchised are African American males. While it does have roots in racial disadvantaging, it does not effect the outcome of polls in a drastic enough way to require a reform. There is no study that proves that these felons would vote if they were not disenfranchised.

Felon Disenfranchisement is the act of prohibiting convicted felons from voting in elections. This type of disenfranchisement can be traced back to Greek and Roman civilizations. In ancient times, disenfranchisement was used to remove a convict’s civilian status and mentally isolate him from his fellow citizens. In the United States, a majority of states have held laws that disenfranchise condemned citizens from voting. In the last 40 years, due to the dramatic expansion of the criminal justice system, these laws have significantly affected the political voice of many American communities and people find themselves questioning the fairness of these laws when a majority of those affected are minorities. Reform of these policies has been based on a reconsideration of their legitimate correctional uses and the interests of full democratic participation. States vary vastly in the way they handle disenfranchisement, some making it semi-permanent and others making it nearly impossible to win voting rights back. If you are a convicted felon from Maine or Vermont, you...
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