Should Felons Have the Right to Vote in America

Should Felons Have the Right to Vote in America?
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Currently in the United States, convicted felons forfeit their right to vote. The severity of this so called disenfranchisement is nationwide, but highly varied - with only Vermont and Maine allowing felons and current prison inmates equal voting rights to non-violating citizens.

So we arrive at the core discussion: Should felons have the right to vote? If so, why? If you agree with the status quo, do you believe that the current regulatory measures in place must change? Is such a current policy in agreement with the Constitution? Discuss.

Please have thorough, thoughtful responses and feel free to debate the issue and be prepared to defend your stance on the issue. That is, after all the point of this forum. Using credible sources could improve the validity of your argument but please realize that there is no right or wrong answer here. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
 
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supafletch

Lochagos
Worldwide I firmly believe you give up all rights dependant on the severity of the crime, why should said criminal have the right to mould the countries future when they form part of the scum that holds it back ?
 

Omar Stone

Citizen
College does not make you a well informed voter. Less then 10% watch the news at all. And a lot of them think the mainstream media is telling them the truth.
 

Charl

Basileus
I don't think Felons should be allowed to vote because obviously their motives are going to be different. They will just want to be able to get out of more crimes. Why should they be making decisions for the country if they went against the laws of the country? It's like if someone stole a cookie from the cookie jar and then were put in charge of deciding where to put the cookie jar and secure it.
 

Shantaram

Citizen
While I think it is reasonable to deny felons the right to vote while they are incarcerated, I think they should be allowed to resume voting once their sentence is complete. After all, they've done their time. It's a shame what a hard time people have finding a job and housing after being released from prison. It makes it even more difficult for them to reintegrate and contribute positively to society.

Remember, felonies cover a range of offenses. Not every felon has committed murder or rape. I make no excuses for people who commit crimes, but should someone who has been caught with a large amount of cannabis really be punished for the entirety of their life? Really, not all felons are evil people. Many of them are decent people who have made one very bad decision.

Ideally, prisons should be a means of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, they are not. But by maintaining laws like disenfranchising people with a felony conviction, we make it even harder for them to fully rehabilitate. Voting gives someone a chance to contribute and be a part of our larger society. I would rather give someone the opportunity to rejoin civil society than shun then from it forever simply because they made one serious error.
 
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DeletedUser10773

Guest
I think it is perfectly reasonable for convicted felons to loose the right to vote while incarcerated or out on parole until the parole term is successfully completed. Those who complete their sentence or are pardoned should have those rights restored. I would prefer that all states have uniform laws regarding this.

The Smilodon Fatalis wrote "Dude people without a 2.0 college degree from a major university shouldn't even be allowed to vote, let alone convicted felons."

Yo dude, did that basketweaving course you took count towards your GPA
 
College does not make you a well informed voter. Less then 10% watch the news at all. And a lot of them think the mainstream media is telling them the truth.
But it gives you basic intelligent standing and display that your say matters. I'm sorry, but i'll always trust a conservative who does research out of books, credible articles, etc as opposed to the condescending hippie who works at pizza hut and that's me being liberal by the way. Same goes for the hunter in the back woods with no education as opposed a person with a degree. Fact of the matter is, if you aren't educated at all, then you lack basic reasoning. Considering political science is a basic requirement at major universities as well as other social sciences. You walk out with a better understanding of politics.

Lets be frank what you accomplish DOES give your opinion more of a weight. Again, nobody cares what the guy on the phone at Pizza Hut thinks about politics. Don't believe me? Let one try to talk to you about it. I guarantee you you'll be asking them to shut up or to speak to a manager.

Omar, i'd like to see the 10% statistic. I'm also curious as to why it counts against being well informed if the news is lying to us anyways.

It did hoplite and it was underwater basket weaving. ;)
 
I don't think Felons should be allowed to vote because obviously their motives are going to be different. They will just want to be able to get out of more crimes. Why should they be making decisions for the country if they went against the laws of the country? It's like if someone stole a cookie from the cookie jar and then were put in charge of deciding where to put the cookie jar and secure it.
Well, your thinking runs counter to the entire criminal court's purpose - you are operating on the assumption that all felons are career criminals. You are also assuming that all felonies are malicious - which is simply not the case. For example, most vehicular manslaughter cases (which is a fairly common felony) cases arise out of negligence, not intent. Additionally, Indecent Exposure is considered a felony, we recently had a guy who was drunk at a family outing. He urinated in the woods, but a mother and her child saw this - that man is now not only a felon, but a registered sex offender.

It's obvious from my examples that intent was not present, however I still feel the need to make it clear that the criminal court process is not predicated on punishment - it is focused on rehabilitation. This is indeed the primary drive of penal policy in the US.

Dude people without a 2.0 college degree from a major university shouldn't even be allowed to vote, let alone convicted felons.
If you eliminate community colleges and diploma mills, very few people in the country have attended college. Likely even the people on the jury who decided these people were felons.
 
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Draqone

Guest
I think that everyone should have the right to vote. Excluding certain groups based on the background is very dangerous. Criminals are still citizens.

If someone convicted has no right to vote it opens a lot of room for abuse. Countless regimes have shown how easy it is to convict members of the opposition. Establishing such a law in a democracy means that if such a regime arises it has to make one less step to establish a dictatorship.

Also, lets not forget that hypothetically the purpose of imprisonment is to rehabilitate, not to punish the convict. We imprison criminals so that they are no longer dangerous but also to give them time to change. If we wanted to punish criminals we would keep to the medieval practice of cutting off their fingers and branding them. Of course, if someone can not be rehabilitated they should be removed from the society by lifetime sentence.
 
Draqone, I agree with you almost entirely. Well, almost excluding the fact that this is not a hypothetical scenario - felons cannot vote at any level of government in the US (in most jurisdictions) I also like how you noted the lifetime sentence. It has been speculated that repeat offenders are actually mentally ill (Specifically psychopathic) which should technically make them unable to stand trial. Psychopathy has often been regarded as incurable and untreatable because it is fed by both positive and negative reinforcement. This is another issue entirely, but its still curious to consider.
Recently, politicians have run for office with a "hard on crime" platform, which runs counter to the methodology of "rehabilitation and reintegration."
 

phaylinnyx

Guest
Felons should not be able to vote under any circumstance. Our legal system is so screwed that they get half the time they are sentenced to or less based on the current prison population. When committing a crime you should be aware that is one of the things you are willing to give up. Felons should also not be able to hold any type of public office, but that seems to be a gray area.
 

Draqone

Guest
Draqone, I agree with you almost entirely. Well, almost excluding the fact that this is not a hypothetical scenario - felons cannot vote at any level of government in the US (in most jurisdictions)
I meant that rehabilitation and reintegration is more theory than practice for some prisoners.

I might agree with you that psychopaths (who are judged mentally ill by a psychiatrist) should not vote, but as you say, this is a separate issue. I don't feel I know enough to give any judgement about it.

People who are sentenced for treason is also an interesting issue but this is a marginal case, and lets be honest, intelligence agencies are perfectly capable of handling it.
 

Kuro Okami

Guest
You guys do know that majority of the computer crimes that are committed are on a felony-base? Meaning that if you were caught "hacking" somewhere or using a program to get an edge on someone and then get caught doing it, you'll be convicted as a felon and not allowed to vote because you decided to use current illegal programs on the computer.

I think that those who are very dangerous felons or criminals shouldn't be allowed to vote because they have a mind that is either selfish or clever so if they vote, they will vote on something that will help them out in the long or short run. By "dangerous" I mean like those who murder people or led terrorist groups that have caused harm to humanity or something similar to this.

I'd like to comment on those who are saying that you need an "education" in order to vote but that's going off-topic here. Quick comment though, education does not solve everything.
 

amefeu

Guest
Same goes for the hunter in the back woods with no education as opposed a person with a degree. Fact of the matter is, if you aren't educated at all, then you lack basic reasoning. Considering political science is a basic requirement at major universities as well as other social sciences. You walk out with a better understanding of politics.
Just so I don't go off topic I respond simply with NO if you wish to discuss further pm me

I don't have much more to add to the overall discussion except to agree with those who have posted previously
 

Shantaram

Citizen
Dude people without a 2.0 college degree from a major university shouldn't even be allowed to vote, let alone convicted felons.
I think you might be underestimating people without a formal college degree.

What do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Ted Turner, Oprah Whinfrey, John Mackey, Ralph Lauren, Walt Disney, Tom Hanks, and Abraham Lincoln all have in common?

They are all college dropouts. According to your logic, they shouldn't be allowed to vote. It is possible to get an education without earning a diploma.
 

tmes85

Guest
I think that if you are an american, you work and pay taxes that you should be able to vote. They should have the right to help make this place a better place even though they may have done something bad. I look at it this way: maybe the thing they did that got them convicted could have been prevented if better policies were in place. Just IMO.
 

DeletedUser10773

Guest
I think that if you are an american, you work and pay taxes that you should be able to vote. They should have the right to help make this place a better place even though they may have done something bad. I look at it this way: maybe the thing they did that got them convicted could have been prevented if better policies were in place. Just IMO.
I would venture a guess that most convicted felons who are incarcerated do not work or pay taxes while they are a guest of the government, nor are most of them in jail because of some misguided policy. They're usually in prison because they committed a felony
 
I would venture a guess that most convicted felons who are incarcerated do not work or pay taxes while they are a guest of the government, nor are most of them in jail because of some misguided policy. They're usually in prison because they committed a felony
True - but many felons are not in prison, particularly with prison overcrowding. Many are released early. For example, a level 3 (or class C felony) in most states is normally required so many years in Prison (5, for example) and follow-up probation. However, due to prison overcrowding and many people being in prison for more serious offenses some of these felons get out after 2.5 or 3 years. Thats actually pretty standard, but there are many fringe examples on felons being released earlier or with no leniency whatsoever. So people can be considered "felons" and have their voting rights stripped for life while only being in prison for <2.5 years. Other offenses, such as narcotics possession oftentimes never see the inside of a prison cell despite the fact that this is a felony in most of the states and the District of Columbia.

With that being said, its not unheard of for felons to move on in life and become participating members of society - all while still not being able to vote or hold certain job titles. So the topic is more concerned with felons who are NOT currently incarcerated - although some states, as mentioned in the OP, do allow the incarcerated population to vote.