“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Should felons be allowed to vote?
Why not? What are we afraid of? Are the axe murderers going to muster up enough of a coalition to legalize axe murdering? The only way felons would be likely to change the system is if they were with the majority.
The most common response I hear is “Why should felons be allowed to vote? Voting is a privilege, and those people should lose it for doing something illegal”.
I think Dr. King would disagree, especially considering the disproportionate percentage of felons who are minorities, and are now silenced. Preventing them from voting only serves to make them feel like they are no longer a member of the society, to resent it, and in the end to work against it.
One quarter of our inmates are in for drug offenses. Caging them as punishment for addiction, cutting them off from our democracy, and then later setting them loose in the middle of it, does not strike me as an optimal policy. There are only two states currently allowing felons in prison to vote, and only 13 that allow it after you have done your time. Thank you Vermont and Maine.