Rights wrongfully revoked: Let felons vote


Nate Henneke, Staff Writer

Every citizen of the United States should have the right to vote in government elections regardless of their past actions. Felons have lost this right. In the United States, going to prison and becoming another statistic in the mass incarceration numbers is the fate of too many. The systems currently in place not only punish felons beyond their sentence, but they also contribute to the high recidivism rate in the United States.

The restrictions placed on felons in the U.S. are unjust and only work to separate former criminals from society when the government should be trying to help integrate them back into society. Felons who are fresh out of prison or jail already have a hard enough time being welcomed back into society, and not allowing them to vote further isolates them from the world. Restrictions on voting may be a factor in the alarmingly high rate of reincarceration in the United States, with two-thirds of people released from prison being arrested again within three years. Furthermore, 50% of those arrested are incarcerated again. This shows how ineffective the current prison systems are, and these systems are being voted on by those who likely will never see the inside of a prison.

In a country where nearly 6% of citizens have been convicted of a felony, it is hard to fathom that such tight restrictions are being placed on a felon’s right to vote. When looking for possible explanations for these restrictions, the best place to start is demographics. The incarceration rates of African Americans and Hispanics are significantly higher than any other race, making up 56% of the prison population. This is evidence that the systems currently in place uphold systematically racist laws and ideas that result in not only the mass incarceration of people of color but also denying them the ability to make a change in the government that is upholding all of this.

Allowing felons to participate in political elections would not only prevent the government from looking like it is incarcerating people of color and then using their incarceration as a means to remove their right to vote, but it would also go a long way in decreasing the recidivism rate that seems to keep going up as time goes on. Trying to solve the issue of America’s justice system is no easy feat, some might even say it is about as hard as steel bars and cold concrete. Though one thing is for sure: Protecting the rights of every citizen regardless of race or any other factor needs to be taken more seriously in this country before people get fed up with the constant injustice.