Only 2 states in the U.S. allow for the imprisoned to vote. Germany encourages all prisoners to vote, and about half of European countries allow all incarcerated people to vote. The other half that place restrictions on voting in prison are in Eastern Europe, part of the former Communist bloc.
No other country in the world disenfranchises released prisoners anywhere close to the way that we do in the United States. Our laws and policies have even led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to charge that the U.S. disenfranchisement policies are discriminatory and violate international law. *see Out of Step With the World
Attorney General Eric Holder has called for changes in laws to let ex-convicts vote. “These restrictions are not only unnecessary and unjust, they are also counterproductive,” the attorney general said. “By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, the laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes.” *see this story in USA Today
Re-enfranchising ex-offenders can produce tangible benefits for both the individual and the community. A 2011 Study by the Florida Parole Commission found that ex-offenders whose civil rights had been restored were much less likely to return to prison than others in the released prisoner population, with respective recidivism rates of 11% and 33%.
One of the most basic and fundamental rights and building blocks of our democracy is being systematically eliminated from millions of our fellow citizens. This cannot be good for any of us.
So… We don’t want you working with us. You can’t live here. Nope, no temporary support for you. Here, let us pile mountains of debt on you. Your punishment continues, didn’t you know that? Oh, and your voice, whether as a juror or voter, we don’t want to hear it. I guess you could say we just don’t consider you full citizens anymore. Fair enough, right? You screwed up didn’t you? Yeah, all our talk in our society about redemption and second chances, can’t you see that we really don’t mean it? Lip service. And we are really, really good at it.
And we wonder why our recidivism rates are so high…
Repent. Turn around. Seek life that we may live.