Addressing Ex-Felon Disenfranchisement Essay
Description of the problem
“One man, one vote” — this statement is used to explain the American democracy that presupposes the proper to vote for every individual, regardless race and socio-cultural background. Throughout the history, America practiced the restrictions of rights for specific teams of people. Although the country demonstrates its capacity to eliminate racial discrimination, different related issues exist. Disenfranchisement of ex-felons may be regarded as a new form of discrimination of primary human rights.
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Laws relating to felon disenfranchisement prohibit the proper to vote for convicts who have served their sentences. This prohibition is a collateral consequence of the conviction of the crime. This legislation varies from state to state. The variation often considerations the process of returning the best to vote and the accompanying procedures. Thus, most states support the regulation that allows felons to receive the proper to vote after jail and parole (“The Unforgiving State”, 2015). The following pictures reveal the variety of people without the best to vote as well as guidelines for receiving this proper (“The Unforgiving State”, 2015).
Florida has probably the most extreme guidelines concerning ex-felon disenfranchisement. The proportion of African-Americans who can’t vote because they’re former felons includes almost 20%. Residents of Florida might lose the right to vote for various crimes together with the presentation of the cast lottery ticket (“The Unforgiving State”, 2015).
The apply of disenfranchisement is not new. It was known in the first civilizations. For occasion, folks had been exiled from the general public life in Greece for the commitment of the crime. It was generally known as atima or dishonor. Felons were not allowed to vote and conduct other activities that have been guaranteed to each free citizen (Hamilton-Smith & Vogel, 2012). In the United States of America, the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) was a step in the direction of the democratic citizenship. The VRA repealed the disenfranchisement of African-Americans, and it was a big growth of the system of legislation. Over the previous couple of a long time, the variety of felons elevated considerably in the U.S., and it resulted within the scenario that about five million people could not vote as a result of they had been ex-felons in 2010 (Hamilton-Smith & Vogel, 2012).
In my opinion, such situation challenges the democracy of the country. Individuals who have served their sentences shouldn’t be deprived of the right to vote and, consequently, the proper to turn out to be active members of society. Still, the difficulty is somewhat controversial. I find it helpful to analyze opinions each for and against disenfranchisement to concentrate on the most important elements of the issue.
Supporters of disenfranchisement argue that felons can’t be trusted even after jail. There is always a threat that they might be corrupted for voting in elections (Manza, Brooks, & Uggen, 2003). The other factor used by supporters is about “the purity of the ballot field”. Some individuals believe that ex-convicts’ participation in voting taints the politics of the state and authorities. This suggestion issues “ethical skills” of voting that have been mentioned for greater than hundred years (Sigler, 2014). Also, some concepts do not allow restoring rights to criminals who have committed violent crimes, in any other case “rapists, murderers, robbers, and even terrorists or spies could be allowed to vote” (Manza et al., 2003, p. 280).
Opponents of disenfranchisement of ex-felons declare that the country ought to follow the rule of universal suffrage for all residents. Restrictions on voting should be enforced very carefully and solely in special cases. A common suffrage is an integral a part of democracy, and it shouldn’t be violated with out relevant explanations and causes. All ex-felons are required to respect the regulation, pay taxes, observe the principles of the local authorities. Opponents of voting right prohibition state that it is unfair to ban the right to vote when the individual is expected to turn into a citizen who follows all obligations (Manza et al., 2003).
These points of view are taken from political debates. In addition, it is necessary to judge the general public opinion concerning disenfranchisement. Dhami and Cruise (2013) have investigated the perspective of public in the direction of the prohibition of the proper to vote. They have found out that individuals favored disenfranchisement for felons who’re already in prisons, serve neighborhood companies, or are on parole. “It appears that individuals see the removal of voting rights as a further penalty for those who have been convicted of an offence and are serving a sentence” (Dhami & Cruise, 2013, p. 222).
Taking into consideration offered information, one might come to the conclusion that the problem may be changed with the assistance of advocacy. However, the public opinion may remain the same no matter modifications in the law. Social change could also be required for the development of public opinion concerning rights of ex-felons. Addressing of the issue is crucial for the proper to be referred to as a democratic country. Also, it can contribute to the development of the higher society the place all people have the prospect to turn into happy and full worth residents.
The Needed Change
Before the identification of the wanted change, it’s applicable to gauge causes that predetermine that want and should alter the method to change.
Political Consequences of Disenfranchisement
Eisenberg (2012) writes, “The clearest and most obvious impact — one that grew to become very clear during the 2000 presidential election and sparked renewed scholarship on the problem — is the increasing potential for disenfranchisement legal guidelines to change the end result of an election” (p. 547). In these years, the quantity of Americans who dedicated felony elevated — nearly two million individuals had been deprived of the proper to vote. Many researchers tried to find the connection between the end result of the election and disenfranchisement laws. Some argued that the totally different outcome can be possible provided that all prisoners voted. Eisenberg (2012) additionally offers the outcomes of the research of other sociologists who think about that disenfranchisement legal guidelines have allowed Republicans to gain the advantage in the electoral campaign.
The fairness of elections can be argued because of the other purpose. The statistical information present that most prisoners are African-Americans. In states with essentially the most extreme disenfranchisement legal guidelines (including Florida, Alabama, Maryland, and Virginia,), African-Americans comprise nearly all of imprisoned population. What concerns the rest of the population, the number of black inhabitants is significantly smaller compared to white. Consequently, the number of African-Americans who are eligible to vote is dramatically small. It might result in the unfair elections with the African-Americans’ opinion being uncared for (Rajan, 2003). The similar idea was launched by Mauer (2002) in his research of disenfranchisement’s results. The different opinion was presented by Miles (2004) in his empirical analysis of the impact of disenfranchisement laws on African-Americans. The author believed that the ex-felons’ prohibition to vote does not affect the end result of the election as far as those indviduals weren’t prone to actively exercise this proper earlier than imprisoning.
As it has been already mentioned, the number of ex-felons increased by almost five million. This reality explains the necessity to allow ex-felons to vote to make results of elections honest. This change could be achieved solely with the help of advocacy. Thus, it is necessary to assemble information about and the impact of disenfranchisement on the electoral process.
In a few of the states, ex-convicts can not obtain the right to vote for the remainder of their lives. Such system bereaves them from the chance to become lively members of society and results in totally different long-lasting consequences.
Christian (2015) writes about labeling as the collateral penalties of being an ex-felon without the right to vote. In many instances, such expertise as being in jail is not simply accepted by society. People proceed looking at ex-felons like they’re still responsible. The labeling principle suggests that ex-convicts feel that they can not change. The absence of the best to vote aggravates the scenario. As a end result, there’s a high danger of recidivism.
Recidivism is regarded as one of the most widespread collateral consequence of ex-felon disenfranchisement. As Mitchell (2004) states, “Faced with a denial of rights, ex-felons are more likely to have a lack of respect for the regulation, and view the fee of future not as a violation of the social compact, as a result of they aren’t individuals in that compact” (p. four). The deprivation of the right to vote exhibits ex-felon that they now not belong to society, and they do not care about it. In such a method, a silent and invisible punishment seems to be a major problem of the society as an entire. Hamilton-Smith and Vogel (2012) have performed an empirical investigation of the connection between disenfranchisement laws and recidivism in ex-felons. Recidivism is defined because the repeated commitment of crime within three years after full launch from jail. Researchers used knowledge from the Department of Justice. In general, greater than three hundred thousand prisoners from fifty states turned subjects of the empirical study. The general course of of information collection lasted for fifteen years, and it was probably the most complete data in the Nineties. The final findings of the examine demonstrated that there was the connection between ex-felons’ behavior and state’s regulation of disenfranchisement. Thus, states that most well-liked the lengthy-lasting prohibition of law to vote to ex-convicts skilled greater rates of recidivism among ex-felons compared to states with extra tolerant authorized practices.
Apart from labeling and recidivism issues, one more aspect of disenfranchisement has not been analyzed properly. This side refers to health fairness. Purtle (2013) has performed analysis aimed to research the collateral consequences of disenfranchisement from the perspective of health fairness. The writer employs ecosocial principle to gauge whether or not there’s a connection between well being disparities and rights of ex-felons. Purtle has additionally pointed out the fact that the white inhabitants represents nearly all of voters and is extra more likely to make decisions which are beneficial only to them. Purtle (2013) assumes, “Given the high rates of disenfranchisement in African American communities, it’s believable that disenfranchisement weakens the political affect of minority communities, thereby contributing to racial health disparities as a result of public policy decisions don’t absolutely replicate minority interests” (p. 634). This conclusion is logical and ought to be taken into consideration when deciding about needed changes too.
Collateral consequences demonstrate that the disenfranchisement legal guidelines have a unfavorable affect on ex-felons and society as a complete. That is why their efficiency and implementation ought to be reviewed as properly.
The goals are to be predetermined not solely on the premise of the described needed modifications. Five Core Notions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are taken as a cornerstone for objectives and changes. These five notions include:
Taking all of the described elements into consideration, the next goals are to be achieved with the assistance of social change and advocacy:
The force-field evaluation is to be employed to establish and briefly describe forces for and in opposition to of the wanted modifications.
Forces for change embrace substantive knowledge, political expertise, and social elements of the environment. Substantive knowledge of the problem is necessary for the understanding of major issues. Thus, substantive information presupposes the existence of quite a few supplies and empirical studies that show the antagonistic results of ex-felon disenfranchisement. All findings from research could also be concluded with the assistance of Sugie’s (2011) phrases: “A massive and rising inhabitants of the politically disengaged, economically marginal, and socially excluded doubtless has critical repercussions for US politics, democracy, and our social contract” (p. 1). Political experience includes the second drive for the wanted change. For example, Conn (2003) provides an in depth examination of the U.S. “partisan politics” regarding controversy about disenfranchisement laws on each state and national ranges. Other comparable investigation can be utilized as sources of political experience that are helpful for the accomplishment of set objectives. Finally, explorations of social setting comprise the last favorable aspect for the change. Disenfranchisement laws aren’t positive for the society in political, social, and even health-primarily based views. These ideas have been also developed by Hull (2006).
However, a number of forces are towards the achievement of objectives. The first obstacle concerns individuals. As it has been showed by Manza et al. (2003), society is prejudiced in terms of ex-felons. Such angle might hinder the achievement of the aim. The different impediment refers to politicians who’re thinking about preserving these legal guidelines. Wright (2006) has evaluated the relation between politics and voting rights and has come to the conclusion that the restoration of the voting rights isn’t advantageous for Democrats. The second hindrance is earlier experiences. Only two states, specifically Maine and Vermont, present no restrictions for ex-felons (Policy Brief: Felony Disenfranchisement, n.d.). Haase (2015) exhibited the issue by analyzing the makes an attempt to change disenfranchisement legal guidelines in Minnesota and concluding that many efforts were made but with little progress. Other states have many guidelines that make it somewhat difficult to restore the best to vote. The last impediment is the lack of awareness of ex-felons of their rights. Some of them have no idea that they’ll vote after prison once more (Leong, n.d.).
Set goals can be accomplished only with the help of careful and well-thought goals. The first objective is the restoration of the voting rights of ex-felons. This target presupposes that the adjustments must be made in laws regulating disenfranchisement. Thus, it’s necessary to offer reasons for the present laws being not acceptable. The first goal is to investigate laws and former precedents regarding the ex-felon disenfranchisement. The purpose is to demonstrate the incompetency and counsel adjustments to the insurance policies.
The second aim is the elimination of the social resistance in the direction of change. The suggestion that the society might not favor enfranchisement of ex-felons is made on the premise of earlier investigations of the folks’s attitude in the direction of ex-convicts being concerned in the political course of. Consequently, it’s necessary to report folks that disenfranchisement has an antagonistic impact on the neighborhood as a whole. The second objective is to disclose unfavorable consequences of ex-felon disenfranchisement for society.
The third goal recommends the creation of the system of notifications for all people who find themselves about being (or have already been) convicted of the sure crime. This goal is predetermined by felons’ lack of know-how of personal rights. The goal is to advertise the training of felons about their rights and freedoms.
The first goal is to show that the disenfranchisement legal guidelines usually are not competent and counsel other options. John Kingdon’s “policy window” theory of change (Stachowiak, 2013) will be used as a foundation for advocacy. Thus, step one is to identify the problem. Then, it is recommended to supply the proof of the statement. Finally, new coverage choices must be developed.
Supporters of ex-felon disenfranchisement share the opinion that ex-felons cannot be trusted because they have committed completely different crimes. In such a way, these proponents undermine the effectivity of the authorized system of the United States of America. Criminals are convicted of the felony and are placed in correctional establishments for punishment. The task of prisons is to show a lesson for felons. When the individual has served its sentence, she or he has fulfilled its obligation. Still, supporters of disenfranchisement legal guidelines believe that ex-felons cannot be trusted, and it reveals their doubts concerning the efficacy of the system of penalties of the country. As Brooks and Holmes (2004) conclude, “The logic is simple and fair: If an individual has served their time and has been determined not to be a risk to society, why should they be thought of a threat to the ballot box?” (p. 17).
Disenfranchisement law has been adopted in Richardson v. Ramirez Supreme Court Decision in 1974. The decision was motivated by the Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment, specifically by the assertion that individual may be disadvantaged of the particular rights because he dedicated a crime that fell under the definition of the Other Crime Exception. Despite several rejections, the apply turned widely utilized in subsequent circumstances (Conn, 2003). Lawyers and attorneys prove that “ex-felon disenfranchisement would be invalidated underneath the trendy doctrine of equal voting rights beneath the Equal Protection Clause” (Cosgrove, 2004, p. one hundred seventy). Cosgrove (2004) additionally consider different authorized aspects of disenfranchisement.
These elements reveal the relevance of the recommendation to revive voting proper for felons upon launch from prison. The restoration of rights should serve as the instance of entering society and changing into its member.
The second objective is to eliminate the negative perspective of society towards disenfranchisement. The Prospect Theory or “Messaging & Frameworks” principle of change might be used for this function (Stachowiak, 2013). This principle signifies that the society must be informed about adverse elements of ex-felon disenfranchisement and potential positive outcomes of the change. The profitable experience of the restoration of the best to vote in Connecticut could also be taken as the instance. Authorities acknowledged the necessity to familiarize the neighborhood with the problem. They developed messages concerning the optimistic end result of the policy. Those messages have been spread by way of local media, newspapers and radio specifically. In addition, they made billboards and established campaigns that enhanced the acceptance of the change in society (Coyle, 2003).
The third objective is to advertise the education of felons about their rights. Two possible ways may be used for the rising felons’ consciousness of their rights. The first is a system of notifications. Thus, upon convicted of crime dedication and sentence, felons ought to obtain the notification in regards to the restoration of the proper to vote upon release. Rogers (2014) additionally adds, “Upon launch, the offender must be absolutely informed of his rights beneath state law and, where acceptable, must be provided assistance within the enfranchisement course of” (p. 7).
The evaluation of the action plan is a major step in addressing the particular problem. The aim of the assessment is to determine potential flaws in the action plan and get rid of them. Also, the evaluation should present some insight into the effectiveness of the motion plan.
The very first thing is to make sure that there are supplied solutions for all targets and goals. The need to restore voting rights of ex-felons, being the primary aim, is explained within the actions plan. However, it can be somewhat a challenge to implement this modification. The assist of communities may be required. Thus, it’s advisable to unfold the coverage plan and have interaction different people who are also concerned with this concern.
The second objective is the elimination of the society’s disapproval of the coverage. The action plan presupposes the utilization of media and campaigns for spreading the details about the unfavorable impact of disenfranchisement legal guidelines on the society. The effectiveness of this goal may be checked through communication with leaders of the community the place the change must be applied. Authorities can present further details about peculiarities of the society and people who live there. The second aim ought to be efficient because it’s based mostly on the evaluation of literature and pieces of research devoted to the problems of public’s angle in the direction of ex-felon disenfranchisement laws.
The effectiveness of the final objective is predetermined however the fact that some former felons have no idea that they’ve the proper to vote. It is estimated that the schooling and notification system will be useful for the formation of the sensation of belonging to society. Upon launch, ex-felons will know what to do to enter society again.
Ethics and Diversity
Ex-felon disenfranchisement legal guidelines have aroused quite a few discussions about moral points. The first ethical problem appears in terms of the protection of rights of ex-felons. Many individuals who favor disenfranchisement legal guidelines argue that people who’ve committed the crime can’t be trusted anymore. It is irrational to let murderers, rapist, or thieves the proper to predetermine the future and development of the country. Such considerations appear logical. However, Manza and Uggen (2006) have investigated that concern and got here to the conclusion that “empirical evidence that legal offenders would be more prone to commit electoral fraud is essentially nonexistent” (p. 13).
The democracy presupposes that every one persons are equal and have rights that make them part of the society. The significance of the best to vote should not be underestimated. It belongs to the important rights of the person who is guaranteed by Constitution. When the individual is bereaved of the best to vote, she or he experiences what known as “civic demise” (Mauer, 2002). “Civic death” is a time period used to describe the devastating effect on particular person’s life the absence of the right to vote. Thus, it is not ethical to divest any rights upon launch from jail.
Ex-felon disenfranchisement usually results in the discrimination points. The fact is that the majority felons are African-Americans, and it implies that a lot of them can not reveal their curiosity in elections. Some students argue that it is a new form of racial discrimination as a result of it is apparent that interests of African-American minorities usually are not represented efficiently (Mauer, 2002).
The final moral issue refers to the discrimination of the poor. Thomson (n.d.) adds that individuals who experience the dearth of economic resources usually tend to be sentenced and despatched to prison than those that have money. Thomson (n.d.) cites the conclusion of one of the studies: “The low-income defendant [has] a greater likelihood than the upper-income defendant of emerging from the felony courtroom with an energetic prison sentence” (p. 9). As a outcome, extra poor people turn into ex-felons who can not vote and represent their interests. The major goal of the action plan is instantly related to the elimination of moral points through the restoration of voting rights to former convicts.
I imagine that the successful implementation of my motion plan can make the life of society better. I wish to dwell on the estimated optimistic outcome of every aim that is defined in the action plan. The accomplishment of the first goal, the restoration of the proper to vote to former felons, will reduce racial, social, and health disparities in communities. However, I perceive that such positive result can’t be achieved instantly. I think about that initially it may lead to the disorientation. Proponents of ex-felon disenfranchisement will try to prove the unfavorable penalties of the restoration of rights. In the lengthy-time period perspective, the number of people who’re eligible to vote will increase and, consequently, they’ll be capable of protect their interests.
The profitable change in society’s angle in the direction of ex-felons’ rights to vote will outcome within the constructing of sturdy neighborhood. On the one hand, ex-felons will feel that they’re full worth members of society. The fee of recidivism will decrease. On the other hand, individuals from communities will be safe in a spot with lower charges of crimes in comparison to earlier years.
In my opinion, social change, management, and advocacy are interconnected. I consider that advocacy and management are constituents of the social change to some extent. Social change presupposes that some aspects of the social life are to be modified. These modifications might embrace folks, their lifestyle, behaviors, relations, institutions, or actions. No change can be achieved with out the chief. Although the idea of leadership will not be identified separately through the strategy of social change, there isn’t any doubt that some individuals will become leaders. Leadership is essential and unavoidable a part of any change. Without the chief, any change will flip into chaos somewhat than an organized course of. Advocacy comprises another integral constituent of the social change. It protects pursuits of people, empowers them to defend their pursuits and do not be afraid of changes. Thus, all three ideas are interconnected and form one unity essential for the successful change.
My understanding of social change, management, and advocacy has been broadened after the preparation of the motion plan addressing ex-felon disenfranchisement points. I did not suppose that social change could possibly be used for protection of the rights of convicts. The investigation of the issue made me understood that social change is far bigger concept than I assumed. Also, my imaginative and prescient of social change and advocacy shaped my perspective on former felon disenfranchisement. I realized that every one individuals need protection, and I felt like I could contribute to the accomplishment of necessary objectives that might eliminate social and racial disparities.
Brief Summary of the Sources
All sources used within the present paper are peer-reviewed. The info from a number of sources was used to collect the most related information. Also, findings of empirical studies were utilized as nicely.
Rajan (2003) writes concerning the principle of the American democracy that can be described as “One Man, One Vote”. The creator pays attentions to the truth that throughout the history, America practiced varied forms of the prohibition of rights and freedoms and people. Although racism is believed to be overcome in the nation, there are other sources of prejudices and discrimination. Ex-felon disenfranchisement laws may be referred to as a brand new type of discrimination as well. Sigler (2014) describes the historic background of the issue and offers details about the current situation of disenfranchisement of ex-convicts. The ideas of the disenfranchisement legal guidelines are also described by Thompson (n.d.). Manza et al. (2003) provide readers with information about arguments for and against disenfranchisement laws. Authors use these opinions to kind the general image of individuals’s attitude towards permitting ex-felons to participate in elections. Their findings reveal that most individuals are glad with the prohibition to vote upon the release from jail. This suggestion was supported by the other study carried out by Dhami and Cruise (2013).
Consequences of the disenfranchisement laws have been evaluated by Lynn Eisenberg (2012). The creator pays attention to the truth that the prohibition to vote after prison could influence the outcomes of elections. Other collateral results of ex-felon disenfranchisement legal guidelines such as labeling, recidivism, and racial discrimination, have been identified in works of Christian (2015), Mitchel (2014), and Hamilton-Smith and Vogel (2012).
Other authors made a major contribution by analyzing authorized conditions for disenfranchisement laws. Thus, Cosgrove (2004) introduced the concept that these laws are now not relevant as a result of they don’t meet the fundamentals of contemporary notions of equality. Conn (2003) and Leong (n.d.) additionally argued the applicability of ex-felon disenfranchisement legal guidelines.
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