LostVoice: Should Felon have a Voice?
Thejustice system in the U.S is only one of its kind internationallybecause of two main factors the high rate of people imprisoned ascompared to the total population, and because of the many thingsfelons and ex-convicts are not supposed to do for political reasons. Forty eight states do not allow felons in prison to vote and 13states do not allow ex-convicts to vote. Compared to other developnations, the effects of the criminal justice system to separateconvicts and ex-convicts becomes debatable (Goldman1).In many of European nations, felons in prison are not given a chanceto vote including in Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Denmark,Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Poland and even African countries such asSouth Africa. In these states, only a certain group of criminals whohave done crimes which are big are not given the chance to vote(Uggen 5). Convicts should be given a chance to air their voicessince not allowing them the opportunity to vote means we are ineffecting their rights as human beings as well as those affectinggeneral democracy. Democracy do better in areas where all people areable to vote, in order to make good decisions, which affects theirlives (HumanRight Watch 3).
Felonsshould have a right to Vote
Notallowing felons voting right means we are fully chasing them frompolitical activities, that in one way or another impacts on theirlives in prison and outside the walls of prison. American CivilRight Union is one of the groups that have been very active ingetting information and increasing information on why felons shouldhave a voice (Uggen 1). Their thinking is based on the fact that,taking away a felon’s right to vote fully oppose democracy. It isworth noting that, there is a big group of people in prison that canchange the outcome of elections. The reason why many leaders are notready to pass laws, which can give felons an chance to vote is thefear of losing elections because such groups are seen as violent tothe activities to those leaders in office or those getting out. Forexample, in the state of Florida, there are about 1.5 million peoplewho are not given the right to vote because there are either inprison or out of jail but have not been given their rights assupposed to be (TheSentencingProject 2). Shocking enough, this is about one out of ten of peoplestaying in Florida not given a chance to choosing who they want torun the local, state and federal governments (Uggen 2).
Notgiving a chance to a group of the public such as the convicts may notonly change the results of elections, but is also a bad rule thatmakes it very hard for convicts to feel part of the rest of thesociety. As a result, this increases their possibility of committinga crime again once they get out of prisons (Human Right Watch 4). The main aim of putting criminals in prison is not only to separatethem from the rest of the community but to put a penalty for theirbad crimes and give them a chance to change (Uggen 2). In addition,convicts commit different crimes and even though a crime is still acrime, at least some of convicts who are not put in life sentenceshould have a right to vote. Not allowing felons a voice to be heardpolitically, also does highly causes damage to their life afterprison, as it separates felons who are no longer bad to the societyor state (The Sentencing Project 2).
TheU.S is the only developed nation that continues to separate citizens- felons and ex-convicts from taking part in democratic processesthat affects their lives (HumanRight Watch 2). Without doubt, the criminal justice system has a very big effect onthe society because it affects political power of some groups ofcitizens and takes away the voice of those felons put aside. It ishard for felons to be a part of the society again when theirimportant right of choosing their leaders is taken away. A new studyin the state of Florida has shown that ex-convicts who are giventheir right to vote have lower chances of taking part in crime again(Goldman1). It therefore goes without saying that such not being able to vote not only useless, but also interferes with the ways in which theconvicts recovers.
Asa nation, our democracy is highly affected when one sector of thesociety is not given a chance to airing their voice and being a partof the fate of future generations. The right to vote to a leader isimportant in any democratic nation and in a society guided by goodlaws. Any chance of not voting is bad and not allowed. Nearly, alldemocratic nations around the globe consider the United States lawsaffecting felons to be bad. Most states including 18 Europeannations, Canada, Japan, Israel as well as least developed countrieslike Kenya have given voting rights to felon behind bar. It istherefore of important that U.S rethinks on the need to give felonsa chance to be heard.
Goldman,Adam. EricHolder makes case for felons to get voting rights back. NationalSecurity: Daily Post.2014.Accessedfrom:http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/19/politics/rand-paul-felon-voting/
HumanRight Watch. Losingthe Vote:the Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States.New York, NY.2000.Retrieved from:http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/file/fvr/fd_losingthevote.pdf
TheSentencing Project. FelonyDisenfranchisement Laws In The United States.Research Advocacy for Reforms. Retrieved from:http://archive.fairvote.org/righttovote/Felony%20Dis%20Laws%20in%20the%20US.pdf
Uggen,Christopherand MANZA,Jeff. LostVoices: The Civic And Political Views Of Disfranchised Felons.Universityof Minnesota.2002.