March 02, 2004
Should Felons be Reenfranchised?
Some people think so:
a lawsuit pending here and similar cases across the country have asked the courts to overturn state laws that keep felons from the ballot box, claiming the laws discriminate against minorities who make up a disproportionate number of the nation's prisoners.
So far, the felons have won some key rulings here and in Florida.
Still, they face major hurdles, considering the U.S. Supreme Court ruled long ago that prohibiting felons from voting is constitutional. Such state laws date to the 1800s.
I'm waiting for someone to file a lawsuit to overturn laws against murder, rape and robbery on the grounds that a disproportionate number of those arrested for these offenses are minorities
. But this would face major hurdles, as laws against such violent crimes date to the 1800s (B.C.).
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at March 02, 2004 11:36 AM
That's only a minor hurdle.
why bother with lawsuits of this nature? the GOP will undoubtedly discourage minority reenfranchised felons at the ballot box (as they are known to do in key states, including florida). either way, i'm sure the GOP will not be negatively affected at the polls.
The Black turnout in the Florida 2000 elections was the highest percentage of the State population than in any past election. Additionally, after much handwringing, a stacked Federal Civil Rights Commission could not identify a single documented case where Blacks were not permited to vote.
Doesn't matter, Gary.
It's TRUE that Republicans hate black people, and keep them down, and prevent them from voting.
Mere "facts" cannot change this TRUTH. This TRUTH is eternal and unchanging.
(Which is why Powell and Rice don't "count", of course...)
Most people in prison these days are there for nonviolent drug offenses. Mandatory minimum sentancing is discriminatory -- you get more time for crack cocaine (a "black" drug) than powder cocain (a "white" drug) even though both are the same drug. Minorities are more likely to be sent to prison for a drug offense than whites are.
I don't know what the percentages are for the total population of released felons in the population, but given that half or more of the new felons being generated were convicted of victimless drug "crimes", I'd be in favor of re-enfranchising felons. How the hell are we going to get rid of these stupid drug laws when the ones who have been most harmed by them can't vote to change them?
Oh, the gracious liberals will eagerly vote to re-enfranchise them, and any other thugs and villains that might have their feelings hurt if they were left out of the program.
And surly old realists will ponder and scratch their heads and recall that no one needs to go to jail - committing felonies involves exercising one's right to choose, come to think of it - and conclude that the franchise might as well be reserved for folks who choose to support our democratically established laws instead of breaking them.
"Most people in prison these days are there for nonviolent drug offenses."
Care to back that up with some data?
"Minorities are more likely to be sent to prison for a drug offense than whites are."
Could that be because, just maybe, minorities are committing more drug crimes than those evil, oppressing white folk?
Drug War Facts: Prisons
(I wasn't 100% accurate on the "most" statement -- it ends up I was thinking of federal prison, where most of the people there are there for drug crimes. State and local prisons/jails have different percentages.)
Also, whites commit more drug crimes than blacks, yet more blacks are in prison for them.
Drug War Facts: Race, Prison, and the Drug Laws
Given those statistics, yeah, I think minorities are being discriminated against when it comes to prosecuting drug crimes. And given that drug crimes are victimless, yeah, I think those people should retain their voting rights.
Doesn't it disturb you that we have more people locked up in federal prison for victimless "crimes" than we do for real crimes?
Oh, and jimg, just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm not a liberal, and I am a race realist -- I don't think every difference in outcomes (income, university admissions, etc.) is due to discrimination.
However, some discrimination does still exist. Discrimination against blacks when it comes to prosecuting drug offenses, for example.
I wonder what percentage of people incarcerated for "minor drug offenses" pled down from the major drug offenses they were originally charged with.
Major or minor, it's still a victimless "crime".
"Major or minor, it's still a victimless "crime"."
Tell that to the 8 foster kids and two adoptees I've taken in because their parents were too drugged out to take care of them.
"Doesn't it disturb you that we have more people locked up in federal prison for victimless "crimes" than we do for real crimes?"
1. There is no such thing as a victimless crime when it comes to drugs. There are thousands of real-life examples right outside your door.
2. I don't care what color skin they have. Commit the crime. Go to jail. You'll pardon me if I'm of the belief that there are more minorities in prison because they happen to be committing more of the crime ... despite what the Human Rights Watch might think.
Bottom line: Don't like the drug laws? Then change them. And this can be done in ways other than giving people who willingly chose to violate the law the right to vote.
as long as jeb bush runs florida, the liar-in-chief has a leg up there. nothing like unilaterally removing people from the voting rosters or discarding their ballot. jeb might have a harder time this year since katherine harris, the bush's campaign leader/secty of state isn't around to execute on jeb's orders.
republicans don't dislike black people--they love power (as do dems and other politicians) and will do anything--legal or otherwise--to maintain it.
redistrict texas. done.
lie about wmd. done.
lie about the size of the medicare proposal. done.
lie about 9/11 commission cooperation. done. (all the while, grandstanding about 9/11).
like about the size of the tax cut. done (check www.factcheck.org)
hey, if the liar-in-chief says so, it must be so right?
they treat us like subjects--we become sheep. great for democracy, eh?
Sorry Dinesh, my points still stand after quickly looking at the report. It was hardly a litany of actions to prevent black voters from voting. It spoke of inadequate funding for voting equipment, long lines for voters, lack of training for poll workers, mistakes when purging voter roles of felonys and other, how shall I say it, complaints about an imperfect system managed by imperfect people.
Again, the black turnout in the Flordia 2000 vote was at it's highest in 2000. This either indicates their was no organized effort to prevent blacks from voting or the GOP efforts to deny these voters access to the polls was hapless.
I read somewhere that a big part of the voting problems in 2000 was because many places had upgraded to computerized equipment and the elderly people who tend to volunteer to staff polling places couldn't figure it out.
LSD is a drug predominately used by whites and the minimum sentence for sales in CA is 10 years, longer than that for crack. And the East Bay drug enforcement divisions have been spending a huge proportion of their time over the last 6 or 7 years going after meth labs and tweakers. Both tend to be the province of white suburban trash.
All that said, gangbangers on crack are probably more of a problem to society than some white-collar Dilbert having a toot after work, which could explain the difference in incarceration rates.
Just a thought.
This is not a "victim" issue. This is a dumb issue. If you know that being busted for narcotics will lead to a jail term and the wreckage of your life, AND YOU BUY/SELL/USE/POSSESS DRUGS ANYWAY, you are too dumb for me to want you to vote on issues concerning the future of MY nation. Disagree? There are plenty of guys in Walpole or Riker's who would love to manage your 401K and bank account. If you don't trust them enough to handle YOUR money, why should I trust them with MY futute?
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I was discriminated against by being denied access to a university because I am a felon. However, academically, I am very qualified. Anybody have this experience or one similar. Can I sue?