Skip to main content

Susan Greenbaum, Professor Emetria of Anthropology at the University of South Florida, writes that restoring the right to vote for ex-felons reduces the redivism rate significantly. In 2007, Governor Charlie Crist restored the right to vote for non-violent offenses. Subsequently, studies have been done which find that giving people back their civil rights means that they are less likely to commit crime. It also saves taxpayer money, since it costs less to educate someone than it does to imprison someone.

Greenbaum writes that the concept of denying the right to vote to ex-felons had its antecedent in Jim Crow:

It has been a long time coming. Laws that deny ex-offenders the vote have a long and dark history. Although felons were prevented from voting in most states from the very beginning of the republic, after the Civil War, these laws were greatly expanded in the South — and virtually all felons in those states were black. The South’s loss of the Civil War in 1865 presented former slave owners with dual dilemmas. Their captive labor supply had been liberated, and those formerly involuntary workers were going to be allowed to vote. In the words of one former slave, “bottom rail on the top.”

Soon after the withdrawal of federal troops in 1877, however, white entrepreneurs of the South solved both problems with two linked concepts: convict leasing and felon disenfranchisement. First, massive numbers of African-Americans were arrested for little or no reason and sent to work in mines, mills and fields, creating an almost limitless supply of effectively free labor. Under newly enhanced (and in some cases newly created) laws, these ex-felons were then forever after denied the right to vote. This process also planted in the American psyche a viciously tenacious stereotype of African-American criminality. Douglas Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book “Slavery by Another Name” describes these circumstances in excruciating detail: The depraved system has made enduring marks on today’s criminal justice landscape, in the form of felon disenfranchisement laws and racially disparate arrest, conviction and sentencing practices. Michelle Alexander, in her book “The New Jim Crow,” compares these laws and today’s mass incarceration of inmates of color to historical injustices.

The reason these policies are continuing is because they benefit the bottom line of the private prison industry. The ACLU released a study that shows that even as the economy remains stagnant, the private prison industry is collecting windfalls.
Private prison companies, however, essentially admit that their business model depends on locking up more and more people. For example, in a 2010 Annual Report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) stated: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . . .” As incarceration rates skyrocket, the private prison industry expands at exponential rates, holding ever more people in its prisons and jails, and generating massive profits.
And don't expect the Supreme Court to do anything about it. The 15th Amendment states:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
But SCOTUS Justice John Roberts believes that corporations are the highest form of good, as evidenced by his rulings on Citizens United and on Obamacare. To him, it doesn't matter which party his rulings benefit. The only thing that matters is the bottom line.

And as Think Progress notes, a Justice Policy Institute study notes that the private prison industry is subsidizing our politicians.

According to JPI, the private prison industry uses three strategies to influence public policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and networking. The three main companies have contributed $835,514 to federal candidates and over $6 million to state politicians. They have also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct lobbying efforts. CCA has spent over $900,000 on federal lobbying and GEO spent anywhere from $120,000 to $199,992 in Florida alone during a short three-month span this year. Meanwhile, “the relationship between government officials and private prison companies has been part of the fabric of the industry from the start,” notes the report. The cofounder of CCA himself used to be the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

The impact that the private prison industry has had is hard to deny. In Arizona, 30 of the 36 legislators who co-sponsored the state’s controversial immigration law that would undoubtedly put more immigrants behind bars received campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists or companies. Private prison businesses been involved in lobbying efforts related to a bill in Florida that would require privatizing all of the prisons in South Florida and have been heavily involved in appropriations bills on the federal level.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)

    "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

    by Eternal Hope on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 05:54:33 AM PST

  •  Most would not care. (0+ / 0-)

    I would imagine, most whom are within the prison population would not register to vote, wait in line to vote, or mail in an absentee ballot.   Most.  Not all.

    I also feel most of the prison population would not exist if we had something like the "Workers Program" like, during the depression , people could contribute to society, while earning a living wage, and not be forced into either a welfare or criminal choice.

    You just can't have 9 people making all the money, and the rest hoping their numbers come in.  That is how you fill prisons.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:04:41 AM PST

  •  Restoring voting rights to non-violent felons... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    ...might be a plausible issue, politically.  However, a relative minority of states don't allow for the restoration of voting rights as it stands today.

    Although it's somewhat subordinate to the more important issue of not creating them in the first place via the drug war.

  •  War on Drugs (0+ / 0-)

    If the government morons would stop the "war on drugs," (at least for pot) there would be an instant drop in the prison population.

    Colorado is going to be the model for legalizing pot in other jurisdictions.  After a few years, a study should be done on just what the prison population is in Colorado since the legalization of recreational pot.

    As to felons voting rights, very few states ban felons from voting.  In most states, as long as you have served your sentence, are not under court control, a certain amount of time has passed since your crime, you can vote.  This is true in MD, PA, and some other states.  The VA rednecks ban felon voting unless their rights are restored through a pardon.

    If you want less recidivism, let felons vote and let them be part of society.  They will be less likely to repeat their criminal ways if they don't feel like outcasts.

    Music is Mankind's Gift to Humanity

    by BobJustice666 on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 08:07:48 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site