Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The REAL Voter Suppression: Denying Felons the Right to Vote

Red states have gotten lots of well-deserved publicity from their slippery attempts to crack down on voter registration drives, early voting, extended voting hours, etc.  But far more votes are suppressed by not allowing felons to vote.

The same goal is achieved by both types of voter suppression:  keeping minorities and low-income people out of the voting booth.  But preventing ex-cons from voting has been much much more effective in achieving this agenda.

I’m guessing the main reason America’s prisons are such hellholes — by Western standards anyway — is that felons have absolutely no voice in our government.  No matter how many millions of them there are, no politician gives a flying fuck about them if they can’t vote.

Thanks to the War on Drugs (and other victimless “crimes”), felons are a sizable percentage of the U.S. population.  Perhaps they deserve a voice in the laws that put them behind bars in the first place.  I’m not referring to violent criminals, obviously — just the millions of felons whose only “crime” was to offend somebody’s “morals.”

The private prison industry is extremely lucrative, thanks again to our countless laws against victimless “crimes.”  The Prison Industrial Complex and the Talibangelical wing of the GOP would both have a lot less political influence if the people most affected by them could vote.

An ex-convict has the right to move next door to you, but he/she can’t vote?!?!?!?  Why???

This isn’t the case in most Western countries.  ProCon.org conducted a survey of the world’s forty-five democracies.  Twenty-one of these countries have absolutely NO restrictions on felons’ voting rights.  Out of the remaining twenty-four countries, only FIVE of them are denying the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentence:  Armenia, Belgium, Chile, Finland and the United States.

I’m surprised to see Belgium and Finland in that category.  Chile, Armenia and the United States — it figures.

In my ongoing effort to be optimistic and see the glass as half full:  If we start putting corporate/financial criminals behind bars, maybe our “elected” “representatives” would suddenly get concerned about felons’ voting rights.

But alas, the glass if half empty.  I just remembered:  during the height of the Watergate scandal, somebody quipped that “prison reform” would be a side effect of having Nixon’s henchmen marching off to prison in droves.

How’d that work out for us?  Suddenly we had a new category of “non-violent” minimum security country clubs prisons for white collar criminals.  For everyone else, the Prison Industrial Complex just got stronger and stronger.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all the States Right Conservatives who complain about big Government, defining of who can vote and who cannot is still a classic states right matter. But then Conservatives never cared about a large populace able to vote just as they opposed, the voting rights act, 18 year old voting, motor voter law, and Saturday Election Days like most of the civilized countries.

In Florida before Bush/Gore the State of Florida send thousand of letters to the black communities reminding them as convicted felons, they cannot vote. Problem was very few that received the letters WERE convicted felons, when challenged on that Florida gave a “oops” and snickered as they watched the low turnout help swing the election for Bush.

Another State (I think it was Ohio) sent out the same type of letter, but omitted that you had to be a CONVICTED felon, also included misdemeanors as well. Another “we’re sorry!” and then “suckers” as they watch their turnout decline.

This country is supposed to be about paying your debt to society and giving people another chance to full citizenship afterwards. It makes it hard for any politician to even think about defending ex-felons without the opposite side coming up with a Willie Horton type commercial showing a black man fresh out of jail using his vote to vote for Louis Farrakhan or something like that.

As for putting corporate CEO’s in jail to reform things, c’mon Tom you know these people never voted in the first place.

BTW on that Nixon prison thing, my mother belonged to a prison rights group that got a chance to talk to a representative of the Nixon administration who laughed at, and then further ridiculed them. That person was Chuck Colson who we may remember crying and pleading before the Ervin committee that he didn’t want to go to jail because he was afraid of being raped. Not that he really had to worry that much as most of the Nixon hierarchy was well taken care of in prison (except for Dean as he was considered a traitor) relatively speaking.

Erik

August 1, 2013 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Only disgraced government officials get second chances. Duh.

August 2, 2013 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Jerry Critter said...

If we are going to say that a felon has paid his debt to society, then he should have the right to vote.

August 2, 2013 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: That's funny, I thought Chuck Colson was some sort of tough guy, like with his famous quote "grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow." But then he was afraid of going to prison because he might get molested -- aaww, poor Chuckie.

Randal: True, what was I thinking?

Jerry: Agreed.

August 2, 2013 at 2:29 PM  

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