Thursday, June 01, 2006
GO Rhode Island!
Call me crazy but I think convicted felons should have the right to vote. I've felt strongly about this since I started volunteering in prisons my junior year of college. I teach the men and women about dialogue and argument. They do research, learn about current events and participate in debates. It is a great tool for empowerment. Through my time I realized how passionate, intelligent and mistreated the inmates are. Sure, sure...not all inmates want to better themselves and I'm not delusional (or idealistic) enough to think that all the individuals are there wrongly. However, I do believe that they are PAYING THEIR DEBT TO SOCIETY. Upon their release, or better yet, during their sentence they should be given the right to vote.

Selfishly, this is a good idea because most studies offer up a very different 2000 presidential race had all states allowed felons the right to vote. But nationally, we need to consider this. Over 1 million black men cannot vote due to felony charges on their record. And if we continue down this path, 30-40% of the next generation of black men will be prohibited from voting. Jim Crow much? It doesn't end there. 3.9 million Americans are banned from voting. If a person pleads guilty to a single drug sale (hypothetically speaking, at the age of 19 during crazy college years), in some states that person would loose their right to vote forever. Yeah, I know...stupid. For felons that enter back into mainstream society, we have an obligation to do everything we can to make them into citizens. What better way to do it then to give them a vested interest in their community?

Sure, not every convicted felon wants to vote. Not every non-felon wants to vote. And not every felon will be an educated, productive citizen. But I know lots of apolitical people and not a one of them are convicted felons.

Cheers for Rhode Island for reconsidering their ridiculous law. I hope other states do the same. My sitemeter says no, but if I have any readers in Rhode Island....GET OUT THERE AND WRITE A LETTER (um, please. thank you.).

Here is another great informational resource.


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