Should people who committed felonies be allowed to vote after serving their sentences?

Poll choices
Posted 8 years.

25 Comments

  • Kelly Garcia - 4 years ago

    I think that felons should be allowed to vote as long as there serious for whom there voting for. People vote to make a change and if there ready to be a productive member of society, then show us that we are fighting for a good change. We strive for change and fight for freedom, so if there serious then lets give them a chance.

  • Hattie Rennolds - 8 years ago

    There are many millions of members of this contemporary permanent underclass to which I now appear to belong: CONVICTED FELON. Still in prison right now, there are a couple of million American citizens with none of the rights of that citizenship, behind bars, in chains, utterly subjugated to arbitrary inhumanity on a daily basis in a grotesquely expensive, destructive, evil system. The poor, the mentally ill, the drug-addicted, the traumatized, and the illiterate populate our "correctional" facilities. Who speaks for them? While the overwhelming majority of convictions are the result of plea bargains made with inadequate representation, who will raise the issue but those who fall into the system? And what of those "awaiting trial", unable to bond out though convicted of nothing, yet subject to immediate and ongoing suffering. And then, upon release, subject to original handicaps as well as new ones, people are told to invest themselves in legal habits. With no new education, support, training, treatment, or healthy connections they are set loose. Who will ask on their behalf that they be allowed some hope, some sense of participation in the system to which they are asked to submit? Race is an extremely important factor in the overall trends, but it is not the reason prisoners and ex-offenders should be allowed to vote. It is because they are still Americans and still human with something to offer the world. They are your relatives, neighbors, co-workers, children of God, flawed, yet (most of them) still part of the American family. Disenfranchisement is civil death, and the dead have nothing to lose.

  • Abelli - 8 years ago

    Mind looking beyond Incarceration Nation border: In Europe prisoners keep hold of voting right (apart from exceptions ruled by judge) because they remain fellow citizen. Europe has about 10% of US prisoner rate.

  • Mabel - 8 years ago

    I had a complicated answer, but Ms. Damon-Moore made me change my mind and go with answer #3: penal status does not alter the right to vote.

  • Maria - 8 years ago

    I believe that if they have stayed out of trouble, say for about 5 years or so and shown that they are a contributing member of society, then their right to vote should be reinstated. If they cannot seem to stay out of trouble then their right to vote should be permananetly taken away.

  • LoisPaul - 8 years ago

    As a resident of Maine, my opinion reflects the reality of what is happening in our state. Felons, even in jail, are allowed to vote. It improves the sense that they are people, whose opinions count.
    If we are to have people who do not re-offend, we must teach them how to be contributing members of society. The most basic way to do that is by allowing them to vote, even when they are in jail. Prisons and jails should have what amounts to civics lessons. They should have voter registration, debates shown concerning the policies of those who are running, instruction on how the government is run.
    It has been shown that people re-offend less when they have re-integrated into the community. Many who are in jail have never voted. Instruction in voter responsibility would help them feel more a part of the community when released, and thus assist in reducing recidivism.
    The basic right to vote is too important to remove it without causing severe repercussions.

  • Juli - 8 years ago

    I believe felons should be allowed to vote while incarcerated especially as they are counted in the districts they are incarcerated in and not as residents of their home counties! Even if they are counted as residents of their home counties having the opportunity to vote, to have a voice in the process that put them under lock and key is important. Until you have a loved one in the system you do not truly understand how disparate the sentencing can be for the same crime. How a simple drug crime can garner a life sentence while a murder, rape, child molestation can get a virtual slap on the hand in comparison. Allowing felons to vote will allow for more accountability on the part of the elected officials, officials of the courts.

  • Stephanie Damon-Moore - 8 years ago

    There are plenty of "good" people who have been stripped of their right to vote. There are plenty of "bad" people who haven't been convicted of anything and are welcome to cast a ballot. I don't think we do a fabulous job of figuring out who should be in prison or out, but I also don't see what the connection to voting is.

    Even if - miraculously - our system of justice managed to accurately pick out all the law breakers or morally depraved people or whoever shouldn't be voting and bar all of them and only them from voting, why should we put another obstacle between them and positive reintegration into society?

    On the one hand, no one is ever going to think about committing a crime, realize they won't get to vote anymore, and have that be the real deterring factor, so it's not like this PREVENTS crime.

    On the other hand, disenfranchising people with felony convictions (who are disproportionately poor people of color) is not only a symbolic barrier to citizenship, it also seriously skews the voting demographic. If, for example, one out of five Black men in Florida can't vote because of a felony conviction - which is indeed the case - that can make a serious impact on who gets elected.

    Finally, think about the people in prison. Admittedly most incarcerated men and women have done something bad, but many of those "horrible" people are actually pretty nice in most ways and most of the time. If none of them can vote, then where's the political incentive to consider their needs or interests? I'm not saying we should have politicians putting fro-yo machines in all the mess halls, I'm thinking a little more practically about people whose medical needs are being completely ignored, or who might have the chance to turn their lives around if anyone in a position of power was motivated to do something along the lines of job training or education.

    Let's not forget that people in prison eventually get out, and it's not necessarily in the interest of public safety to treat them like non-citizens (and non-humans) while they're in prison, on parole, or out of the system apart from a felony convictions hanging over their heads.

  • SDB - 8 years ago

    Here's my story... I was at a house party when I was attacked, so naturally, I defend myself... The guy ends up in the hospital and the next day I'm talking to detectives about what happened... Long story short, my case should have fallen under self defense right? Wrong... I had no money to pay for an attorney and with our joke of a justice system (with no suprise) I got rail-roaded through the system and sent to prison. It's all about conviction rates, the DA could care less about justice. The public defenders probably even have lunch and coffee with the DA while they discuss your fate... Which IS decided before you even step into the courtroom and give your testimony... Justice is a facade in this country, and it works in favor of those who have money... Pay the butcher bill or be butchered... But now I'm faced with the inability to vote, for protecting myself??? While I follow the news and politics more than most, and would be able to give an educated vote for the country, I simply can't because im a felon... When will the PEOPLE rule the government again??? That is the real question...

  • Ret USAF SSGT - 8 years ago

    If a person has paid for the crime that they committed then yes they should be allowed to vote. The biggest question is why were their rights to vote taken away in the first place? The legal system in this country, while better than ones in other countries, is still highly flawed. We came up the so called "three strikes" rulings all that did was increase the prison population and for what, a pot seller could wind up with a life sentence while a violent criminal could get lessor time for not gettign caught more than once? Idiotic sentences are give, life plus ten, what idiot comes up with that? In a country that likes to boast so much about it's "Christian"beliefs in which one of main beliefs it is to forgive, then why is it so hard for not just a felon but anyone who has a criminal record to given a chance to be able to get a job and maybe start making a contribution to society? Habitual criminals return to jail, it's in their persona, they want to continue to do wrong, but what about the ones that just made a one time mistake, are they to made to pay for that mistake for the rest of their lives? To TSgt Bourland, I hope that you will never face the same degree of hatefulness that you have expressed in your comment. As I see it you are already a slave, a slave to a mentality that will sooner or later will ahce yto facing the same type of justice that you deem so fair. Keep this in mind, every offense under the UCMJ is a court matial offense. Out a sense of justice and to keep military lawyers from being bogged down, adminisitrative actions( LOR, Article 15) were devised. That's why they are called non-judicial pinishment.

  • TSgt Bourland - 8 years ago

    I am so sick of hearing about the slavery thing, get over it! That was fought over a long time ago. White, Black, Purple..It does not matter. I am tired of hearing the poor me complex from people, go to school and learn something! If you commit a crime guess what, you don't vote anymore, period! Commit murder or rape and you should be locked away forever! Let them vote again what a freaking joke! Even the mention of this mocks the United States, I wish I would have never read this trash!
    TSgt Bourland -USAF

  • TSgt Bourland - 8 years ago

    I am so sick of hearing about the slavery thing, get over it! That was fought over a long time ago. White, Black, Purple..It does not matter. I am tired of hearing the poor me complex from people, go to school and learn something! If you commit a crime guess what, you don't vote anymore, period! Commit murder or rape and you should be locked away forever! Let them vote again what a freaking joke! Even the mention of this mocks the United States, I wish I would have never read this trash!
    TSgt Bourland -USAF

  • Jo Rossi - 8 years ago

    I don't understand why so many of you are voting 'yes'. Think about it, if THAT felon murdered your child, would you want them to vote for political rights? If that felon robbed your home, would you want them to regain the right to vote for your rights? Why do felons need to regain the right to vote when they obviously do not uphold the laws within themselves? They've given up that right willingly by one mean or the other. A choice. If we are to begin them to speak about mental incompability, well..............I think that should speak for itself. Why do you want someone who blatantly disregards the law voting for the law?
    Some people are just stupid.

  • Corinne - 8 years ago

    AGAIN this is not about RACE its about CONVICTED FELONS given their right to vote back...Be they any race. Every time a subject comes up that has in it about African Americans there is always someone out there trying to make it about race. STOP IT FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. Is that all we have become in all these years still right where we started RACISM... Everything is not always about race...I think that it should be on a case by case basis. Thank you

  • Deb - 8 years ago

    I would have to agree with AMY, she is right, young people sometimes make mistakes, and sometimes they have to pay for a mistake. You take a person who has never been in trouble with the law, not even a traffic ticket, and one day they make a bad choice which leads to a felony conviction and prison time and they are a 4.0 GPA college student and a decent human being who for the first time in their lives made a choice that they will regret the rest of their lives and our government and Justice system take away all of their rights is totally unfair. How do you expect these people to ever move on with their lives when they are damned at every turn. How to get a job, how to find decent housing, the right to vote and the denials in life go on and on. NO WONDER they end up back in prison. You know the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, well that is what our lawmakers need to understand, don't crucify the individuals, give them the opportunity to live as law abiding citizens with the same rights that others have. There are plenty out there, that had they been caught would have been convicted felons also, and they are voting, think about that. Hell you can't even get a pardon easy in this country due to the massive amounts of red tape and getting a president to even look at the request case by case much less have to deal with all the unnecessary paperwork to have your rights restored. Lets get real here people.

  • Alex - 8 years ago

    I do not think they should be able to vote. This whole idea of "paying debt to society" is a load of nonsense. Race is not the issue here, statistics say yes, most incarcerated are african-americans. However, the point is if you are a violent criminal (armed robbery, murderer, rapist, etc.), you should lose your rights. I will even go as far to say ALL of your rights. As a member of the military, I put my life on the line to defend our freedom. I am not willing to put my life on the line for violent criminals to have rights, only those who are deserving and productive members of our society.

  • Donna - 8 years ago

    Once they have paid their debt to society, YES, they should be able to vote. For those of you talking about voting down police forces and things...STOP BEING PARANOID! Quit feeding into the "everyone is out to get us" mentality. For those of you that don't see the correlation between race and this issue just don't get it. There are more black men in prison than there were slaves. Don't deny that back in the day Whites wanted to control the Black population. How better to do that than to send away the black men for decades for the same thing white men would get a few years for? They pay their debt the courts say they owe and they still have no say about the country they live in. NO! NOT ACCEPTABLE! This will lead us to somebody using this to control the outcomes of elections. I mean if you convict enough of a certain race on felony charges, that race becomes a non-factor when it's time to vote. If you can't see this, you don't really want to.

  • Donna - 8 years ago

    Once they have paid their debt to society, YES, they should be able to vote. For those of you talking about voting down police forces and things...STOP BEING PARANOID! Quit feeding into the "everyone is out to get us" mentality. For those of you that don't see the correlation between race and this issue just don't get it. There are more black men in prison than there were slaves. Don't deny that back in the day Whites wanted to control the Black population. How better to do that than to send away the black men for decades for the same thing white men would get a few years for? They pay their debt the courts say they owe and they still have no say about the country they live in. NO! NOT ACCEPTABLE! This will lead us to somebody using this to control the outcomes of elections. I mean if you convict enough of a certain race on felony charges, that race becomes a non-factor when it's time to vote. If you can't see this, you don;t really want to.

  • IRMekanik - 8 years ago

    I think that "DAN" is right. If allowed to vote convicted felons could in turn change the outcome of their situation through the proper lawmaker channels. They would not have to revert back to selling drugs or whatever crime got them into their situation. Why? Because they could have laws put into place to help them get "real" jobs and a "real" education. Everyone deserves to earn a decent wage, so why are convicted felons required to give all the information about their crime just to be denied somewhere to live or work? If this truly is "The Land of the Free" then why aren't they allowed to leave the US borders to find better or more lucrative employment? Keep trapping them and in turn they'll keep "trapping"(look it up on urban dictionary). It's a cycle that has to be broken somehow. I realize that not everyone that commits a crime will change, but those that want to change don't really have a choice. After they are caught doing wrong, they lose the ability to earn a decent wage, if one at all. They aren't eligible for any type of help from the government. And most places I've lived bar them from living in a decent neighborhood's apartment complex. So where do they go?

  • Csmith - 8 years ago

    This is not a debate on whether or not African Americans can vote; they have that right. This is a discussion regarding former felons. Stick with the debate and stop making it about race!

  • Kevin - 8 years ago

    They should be forced to vote as part of their rehabilitation: Once released to parole The inmates should be educated in US Government and how it operates and participate. As a matter of fact, we should use prisons as a school and educate all of them in the ways of the Three R's. This would be rehabilitation. no release until you can pass a SAT and be a contributor to society.

  • Amy - 8 years ago

    Sometimes people make mistakes. I made a horrible choice almost 17 years ago and I still have no rights! I had never been in trouble before and I have never been in any trouble since then. I am married with two kids who aren't yet old enough to ask why I don't vote but that day is coming soon. What should I say? This is America and you will never be forgiven. I believe I have a right to vote and that I shouldn't have to jump through hoops and piles of paperwork for that right to be given back to me! ---and yes I am very aware I am an exception to the rule, but change has to start somewhere!

  • Dan - 8 years ago

    If permitted to vote, these felons would also gain the right to vote locally. In some areas, for example Oakland California, they would have enough combined strength to shrink police forces and reduce penalties for crimes as well as elect lenient politicians.

  • Yes everyone should be allowed to vote. African-American were held in Slavery and beaten and raped and everyone deserves to vote. The people who want to deny African-americans the right to vote are racists and bigots and Ku Klux Klansmen. There is never, ever any excuse to deny African-Americans the right to vote. Any moves by the racist Republican Party to deny usour rights and it will split this nation Asunder. The last time the racists snake in this country tried to deny African-American Freedom, we won Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Shiloh, Marthasville (Atlanta) and Appomattox. I say God is on our side. Let Freedom Ring from Stone Mountain, Georgia to South Central Los angeles, California.

  • Terry - 8 years ago

    Yes, they’ve paid their debt to society, now they need to integrate fully into it, but if this is denied it falls into a taxation with out representation issue. We fought a revolution over that issue.

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