Felony Disenfranchisement

Felony Disenfranchisement
Felony Disenfranchisement is the barring of people from voting, otherwise eligible to vote due to
the conviction of a criminal offense. Usually restricted to a more serious class of crimes which are
punishable by death or imprisonment for a time exceeding one year. The United States has the
most and highest cases of incarceration and is also the only democracy which permanently strips
felons of their right to vote. This problem of Felony Disenfranchisement has existed in the United
States of America for more than the last seventy years, but the issue came to head in the year 2000
during the time of United States of America Presidential election, where the few people who were
not in incarceration voted excluding those caught with felony and therefore, their outcome of the
election considered. This problem of disenfranchisement has become a major concern in the
United States since many felonies have been deprived of the right and privileges to be free to vote
the leaders of their own choice. But this disenfranchisement problem in The United States of
America came into existence due to various reasons as discussed below according to various
scholars and researchers who studied its history.
History of the Felony Disenfranchisement Problem
Felony disenfranchisement has a long living history which is closely interrelated with old English
practice of taking possession of a disapproved felon's state before he was put to death. In the United
State, debridement of voting rights to felons was practiced by the southern states in the era of Jim
Crew and that is the period when the felony disenfranchisement began. According to (Harvey) he
states that felon disapproval among minorities increased in the 1970s when political leaders
concentrated on "law and order" and started dealing with crimes or started war on stopping crimes
since crimes had become a story of the day by then. People consumed drugs just to get courage
and bravery to commit crimes which in return made them to get arrested and sentenced, and after
they were out, they were denied by the society and even denied various rights.
According to (Kelley) History on felony disenfranchisement in western countries can be traced
back in ancient Roman and Greek traditions. Disenfranchisement was commonly applied to those
people who committed "infamous crimes" such as committing murder or even drug smuggling
which by then was an imaginable crime when found. The subject faced "civil death" in that they
lose all their rights and claim to property in the society. During the medieval period, many
countries copied the punishment and came up with a common law of excluding anyone convicted
of a felony in the society and even the whole nation. Felony disenfranchisement can also be traced
back in the early colonial period in North America and back in Greece where the punishment of
disenfranchisement was imposed on individuals convicted of personal and serious crimes of
murder and also to individuals proved guilty of elections-related crimes. Felony
disenfranchisement became a significant barrier in the United States of America after the end of
civil war and the extension of suffrage to black men. This punishment was established in 1997,
majorly for black voters. There are trends that made the perfections and the implementations of
the law. That is the lawmakers who came up with criminal laws to slew black citizens convicted
of the offense of felony. When the United States of America installed this punishment, many states
enacted the disenfranchisement laws that deprived voting rights of all victims found guilty of the
crime. Those two trends are the one that laid the foundation of felony disenfranchisement that is
currently going on in the United States of America.
The United States of America being the most punitive nation in the world when it comes to felony
matters, it has strictly ensured that the sentence of this crime is implemented that is
disenfranchisement, probation and the debridement of other rights. According to (Demleitner)most
states do not return a felon's right to vote even after their sentence, but also in other states, for
example, Florida, the felonies restore their voting rights but the fact is that they spend a lengthy
waiting period, after which they must appear before the board to go through re-registration. This
is to say according to (Demleitner)when one becomes a felony then, he or she is no longer a citizen
of that country until he or she goes through all the legal processes to get re-registered. Besides that,
it means in those countries that do not return the felonies rights, the felonies no longer become
their citizens even after their sentence is over. According to NAACP in 201, more than five million
(5M) felonies had no right to vote in their various countries whether in prison or free and righted
citizens. (Karlan)which out the idea that disenfranchisement in most countries is not fair to any
felony, but to the minority populations, the poor and the racial minorities. (Karlan)notes that
disenfranchisement in historically and marginalized communities diminished their potential to
effect change electorally.
According to (Uggen) disenfranchisement does not only affect election results, but also keeps the
ex-felon feeling alienated from the society since, during probation, every right is deprived or taken
away and hence they do feel unwanted to the society at this very moment when they are denied to
take their responsibilities in electing their leaders of choice. Out of the five million felonies who
did vote in the year 1997 in the United States, three-quarter of the population was not in
incarceration, but they were denied their citizenship and rights after the end of their sentence.
Quantitative analysis done by (Sanchez)showed that enfranchised felons had fewer chances to vote
than their non-convicted peers, meaning that felony disenfranchisement had played a less role in
election results. (Preuhs)disenfranchisement arouses the perceptions of the illegitimacy of our
federal or legal among minority citizens since it had a long history in the United States of the
minority voters' suppressions. Taking away from minority voting rights that have affected many
in the United States and within. Felonies go through a lot of suffering in the United States apart
from them being denied voting rights. Many researchers such as (Sanchez)and (Karlan)have
referred this to be a result of racism. Together with disenfranchisement being a denial of citizens
to express their interests in the election, the United States complements that, felonies' interests are
of no longer substantial to them. Lastly, (Marshall)said that the denial of felonies to voting rights
is hindrances of society's efforts to rehabilitate the former and change them become law-binding
ad also to become productive citizens to the society and nation as a whole.
Finally, disenfranchisement has been chased on to identify the state interests accumulated by
denying voting to ex-felonies. This was according to (Marshall)He also states that the frequently
cited interests were; protection against election offenses or voters' fraud, prevention of harmful
changes of law and maintain the "purity" of the ballot boxes. These interests seemed to be
unreliable since each had severe problems or challenges of their own.
Finally, (Jonakoren) reviews that disenfranchisement law was adopted in the United States of
America, upon gaining its statehood. This felony was to reduce the African American citizens in
their states, who were rapidly increasing in number in the USA. Since then the punishment of
incarceration continued to increase rapidly until to date where states have the highest rate of the
correctional control system in the scope. It is also clearly seen that the initiating of this
incarceration or disenfranchisement was not to get the public benefit but to fight the African
American men.
In conclusion, from the long living history of felony disenfranchisement, it is clearly depicted that
the punishment of disenfranchisement started earlier before even the establishment of states in
America. And it was even practiced by the ancestors. So what we are seeing today on
disenfranchisement is not "cooked" in the recent past, but it has deep roots that make it firm and
old. We are also made to be aware that, by coming up with disenfranchisement, no benefit that
needed to be accumulated but the aim was to fight the African American citizens who were
dominating in the United States of America. even to date, it is clearly seen that incarceration is
done mostly to African American men that the Whites, something that brings out a general
meaning that Felony Disenfranchisement is all about the war on the African American Citizens.
Works Cited
Demleitner, Nora. Sentencing Law and Policy: Cases, Statutes and Guidelines. 2004.
Harvey. The History of Disenfranchisement. 1994.
Jonakoren. The History and Impact Of Felony Disenfranchisement. Oxford University Press, 2015.
Karlan, Dean. The Goldilock Challenge. 1997.
Kelley, Eric. Intertwined History of Racism and Felony Disenfrachisement. Stanford Press, 2017.
Marshall, Thurgood. Devil in the Grove. Penguin, 1950.
Preuhs, Robert. Black Latino Relations in United States Politics. Penguine Publishers, 2001.
Sanchez, Thomas. Mile Zero. Penguine Publishers, 1993.
Uggen, Jeff Manza and Christopher. Locked Out: Disenfranchisement and American Democracy. Oxford
University Press, 2006.

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