Florida ending permanent felon disenfranchisement?
Florida Supreme Court
The Florida supreme court today heard arguments about whether or not to allow voters to decide on the Voting Restoration Amendment.
It is estimated that more than 1.6 million Florida residents, including nearly 1 in 4 black’s are currently barred from the polls in Florida due to the state’s strict disenfranchisement law.
If the Florida Supreme Court is agreeable to the Amendment voters in the state will vote in 2018 to allow former felons the rights to vote. Only those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses would still be unable to vote in the state should the Voting Restoration Amendment pass.
Florida by the way currently has one of the most strict felon disenfranchisement laws in the country.
Aside from Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, and Iowa permanently bar those with felony convictions from voting for life unless they seek clemency which no one ever really truly gets.
The problem with permanent felon disenfranchisement is that we instill into the minds of criminals that doing the time, paying the fines, taking the classes, the parole, the probation, the therapy and community service are all paying the debt they owe to society.
They are still disenfranchised for life regardless. They are unable to vote in some states, while other states make them jump through hoops in order to vote.
The other problem with disenfranchisement is that it bars some former felons from the ability to gain employment, something they need in order to become what we tell them they need to become.
Contributing members of society.
Without jobs, housing and certain rights they can never be contributing members of society.
We are taught that we sentence criminals so as to teach them a lesson and to prevent them from committing more crimes.
They are sentenced to jail in an effort to reform them.
That is what we are taught is happening through the sentencing process of our Judicial systems.
The reality is that is not what happens and these individuals face a lifetime sentence after released from jails and prisons.
While the intention is well meant, the truth is the entire system is designed to disenfranchise criminals on a permanent basis regardless of type of crime committed, age the crime was committed, years they spent after said crime staying out of trouble and the like.
For a former felon it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, being disenfranchised is a lifetime sentence.
A small step in the right direction is to fix that and in states that bar former felons from voting, giving those who have not committed sex crimes or violent crimes the ability to vote after they have done the time and paid the debt to society, is in fact a step in the right direction.
Sure we can all sit back and be judgmental and say things like “well they should have never broken the law in the first place.”
True and fair however, taking away the rights of someone for life who has not committed certain sexual or violent types of crimes is, actually a crime in and of itself.
Cristal M Clark