English Comp. II
19 April 2013
Why Felons Should Be Able to Vote
Disenfranchised felons should be reintegrated into society and recover their right to vote. Disenfranchisement is the harshest civil sanction imposed by a democratic society. Some of the problems involved with disenfranchisement include racism, inaccurate polls, and the massive amount of people affected. If the voice of the entire population does not include all sources and agendas, the polls will not be accurate. In Camilli’s research, it is assumed that the enfranchisement of the population is important for a fair and effective democratic community: those governed by this community must be able to vote. (2-3). Racism, although seemingly not the topic at hand, is indeed a primary contributor to this problem. One such limitation of felon disenfranchisement is the disproportionate impact of felon disenfranchisement on racial minorities in the United States, also the close election vote totals in recent prominent elections which may have been swung by the existence of felon disenfranchisement. As Joseph Camilli points out, disenfranchisement has a disproportionate impact upon racial minorities. African Americans are affected more and also men are affected more in general. This brings forth the argument that the outcome is racist or even sexist. This is important when looking at recent elections involving racial minorities (3). Even if the desire is not intended to have racist outcomes, sometimes disenfranchisement laws still do. In Elizabeth Hulls research, she explains the number of black juveniles in the penal system, forty percent of whom will be prohibited from voting during some or all of their adult lives is astoundingly high. Many are first-time offenders who readily accept a guilty plea in exchange for probation. In the process, they often forfeit voting rights before they have even had an opportunity to exercise them. Given these consequences, it is hardly surprising that the United States Civil Rights Commission recently concluded that the disenfranchisement of ex-convicts is "the biggest hindrance to black voting since the poll tax”(Hull 1). In retrospect, maybe disenfranchising the nation’s future is not the best idea. Racism is a large problem of disenfranchisement. Disenfranchisement also affects this nation’s polls because large groups of people are not represented. The sheer number of felons with no right to vote skews the elections, especially those on the local level, and smaller communities. If the amount of felons were not so great, it may not be such an important issue. Since about one out of every forty-four people cannot vote, it implies that the polls are not accurate. Disenfranchisement is crippling in some areas where voting should be important. Small communities are completely underrepresented, and a small group has a larger influence. This has a large impact on certain issues when the entire population is required to make a sound choice. Felons have paid their debt to society; they should be reintegrated into mainstream society as smoothly as possible. It also may be a deterrent to future crime if they were to be able to re-experience a normal life, and include all of the rights they were missing. Perhaps they would even understand how important their rights were and serve to discourage fellow members of the community from future crime. Ex-Felons deserve the right to vote and for a strong democratic community should not be disenfranchised. In some cities, more than 50 percent of young African-American men are disenfranchised. A vast majority of prison inmates are African-Americans. Twelve percent of all African-American men in their twenties are incarcerated. This suggests that of the current population, more than a third of the black male community will be disenfranchised. More than a third of the 4.7 million disenfranchised felons are African-Americans. In four of the states with lifetime bans for felons,...
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