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Politics There’s no good reason to stop felons from voting

Frigg!

Administrator
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Messages
358
#1
So, what do you think?

I've wondered pretty much all my life why convicted felon's didn't just get their right to vote back the minute they finished serving their term. I mean whatever happened to the idea that you "paid your debt to society?" Don't we want to make room for people who commit crimes to repent and try again? Do we seriously need to make people that desparate?

Not to mention what George Will refers to - the removal of the right to vote when convicted as a felon has done a lot to encourage the "school to prison pipeline" for people of color, to keep those communities poor and powerless, and to suppress their votes.

The bumpy path of Desmond Meade’s life meandered to its current interesting point. He is a graduate of Florida International University law school but cannot vote in his home state because his path went through prison: He committed nonviolent felonies concerning drugs and other matters during the 10 years he was essentially homeless. And Florida is one of 11 states that effectively disqualify felons permanently.

Meade is one of 1.6 million disenfranchised Florida felons — more than the total number of people who voted in 22 separate states in 2016. He is one of the more than 20 percent of African American Floridians disenfranchised. The state has a low threshold for felonious acts: Someone who gets into a bar fight, or steals property worth $300 — approximately two pairs of Air Jordans — or even drives without a license for a third time can be disenfranchised for life. There is a cumbersome, protracted process whereby an individual, after waiting five to seven years (it depends on the felony) can begin a trek that can consume 10 years and culminates with politicians and their appointees deciding who can recover their vote.
Meade heads the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which gathered more than 1 million signatures to get the state Supreme Court to approve, and local supervisors of elections to verify, the ballot initiative that voters will decide on Nov. 6. Meade’s basic argument on behalf of what he calls “returning citizens” such as him is: “I challenge people to say that they never want to be forgiven for anything they’ve done.” Persons convicted of murder or felony sexual offense would not be eligible for enfranchisement.

Intelligent and informed people of good will can strenuously disagree about the wisdom of policies that have produced mass incarceration. What is, however, indisputable is that this phenomenon creates an enormous problem of facilitating the reentry into society of released prisoners who were not improved by the experience of incarceration and who face discouraging impediments to employment and other facets of social normality. In 14 states and the District , released felons automatically recover their civil rights.

Recidivism among Florida’s released felons has been approximately 30 percent for the five years 2011-2015. Of the 1,952 people whose civil rights were restored, five committed new offenses, an average recidivism rate of 0.4 percent. This sample is skewed by self-selection — overrepresentation of those who had the financial resources and tenacity to navigate the complex restoration process that each year serves a few hundred of the 1.6 million. Still, the recidivism numbers are suggestive.

What compelling government interest is served by felon disenfranchisement? Enhanced public safety? How? Is it to fine-tune the quality of the electorate? This is not a legitimate government objective for elected officials to pursue. A felony conviction is an indelible stain: What intelligent purpose is served by reminding felons — who really do not require reminding — of their past, and by advertising it to their community? The rule of law requires punishments, but it is not served by punishments that never end and that perpetuate a social stigma and a sense of never fully reentering the community.

Meade, like one-third of the 4.7 million current citizens nationwide who have reentered society from prison but cannot vote, is an African American. More than 1 in 13 African Americans nationally are similarly disenfranchised, as are 1 in 5 of Florida’s African American adults. Because African Americans overwhelmingly vote Democratic, ending the disenfranchisement of felons could become yet another debate swamped by partisanship, particularly in Florida, the largest swing state, where close elections are common: Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s margins of victory in 2010 and 2014 were 1.2 and 1.1 percent, respectively. And remember the 537 Florida votes that made George W. Bush president.

Last week, Scott’s administration challenged a federal judge’s order that the state adopt a rights-restoration procedure that is less arbitrary and dilatory. A Quinnipiac poll shows that 67 percent of Floridians favor and only 27 percent oppose enfranchisement of felons. These numbers might provoke Republicans, who control both houses of the legislature, to try to siphon away support for the restoration referendum by passing a law that somewhat mitigates the severity of the current policy. Such a law would be presented for the signature of the governor, who is trying to unseat three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Again, who is comfortable with elected politicians winnowing the electorate? When the voting results from around the nation are reported on the evening of Nov. 6, some actual winners might include 1.6 million Floridians who were not allowed to cast ballots.
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Last edited:
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
171
#2
I think it's straight up immoral to take away voting rights. Voting is both a right and a responsibility for every citizen - do they stop being citizens because they smoked some weed and ended up in prison?
 

ToyBoxOrphan

Administrator
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Messages
257
#3
This subject is so hard for me to talk about. I have opinions....extremely strong opinions. My brother, who was a very good man, struggled all his life to stay inside the boundaries of the law. It only takes one time to fuck you up for life. He was born in 1966 and voted for the very first time in 2012, the only presidential election he ever got to vote in before he died. The amount of pride he had in voting at the age of 46 is literally making me cry right now. The criminal "justice" system in this country took a troubled boy, hurting from his jackass father's emotional abuse and abandonment and turned him into someone who could never fully live in this society by repeatedly kicking him when he was down for roughly 35 years. It killed him slowly over decades with a never-ending cycle of prison, joblessness, homelessness, alcoholism. He would definitely be here now if it wasn't for the life that was written for him and I don't know anyone who has ever tried harder to do the right things. People talk about people who have a struggle with the law, but he was never struggling against it. He was struggling to do what was asked and it's just not possible to do. Thinking about it now, it's really no wonder at all that every one of his friends that I can recall was a person of color.
 

Frigg!

Administrator
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Messages
358
#4
Our justice system lacks a great deal of justice, and is not tempered by mercy at all. It seems to be more in a long chain of things that keep the rich richer, keep the poor poor, and keep the middle class from becoming uppity.

This is beyond a shame, because I'm a fan of actual law and order, and how do I support a system so lopsided?

As for cannabis itself, I've not used it, and couldn't say anything from personal experience. But it seems to me like alcohol is legal, and it's destruction is patently obvious.

The lesson of Prohibition is that driving booze underground made money for organized crime. Well, keeping cannabis outlawed is not different in that regard.

Plus our neighbor Mexico is a horrible mess in part because the market for illegal drugs is here and they're producers. They get their guns here via gun show loopholes to kill their own innocents.

I don't see why we can't put time and effort into actual treatment programs. Addiction is a serious business, but other countries manage to deal with it.

The difference seems to be that other countries are not stuck in some old stodgy Protestant idea that addition is some sort of "moral" problem. It's actually a health problem. Yes, lifestyle changes are required to deal with addiction, but so what? Lifestyle changes are required to deal with a lot of other health problems, from weight issues to cardiac disease.

From the health standpoint, the benefit of cannabis is obvious to me. I'm on a fibromyalgia page where several people have moved to Coloroado. They're not on opiods anymore.

The continuing panic over cannabis seems very anti-scientific to me.

It also ignores the history that weed panic originated as a way to keep those horrible blacks and Latinos in line, because they couldn't afford illegal booze, so they grew their own.

The history of humanity is rife with mind altering substances being used. Some things are more dangerous than others. I'd rather see the least dangerous available, along with addiction treatment for those that need it, than see people crushed for their entire life over some thing they did in their youth.
 
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