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Should Felons Vote?
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subego
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Feb 14, 2014, 01:56 AM
 
Yes. They did their time.


Other opinions?
     
Shaddim
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Feb 14, 2014, 02:53 AM
 
Depends on the offense. Class E & D, probably should. Class C & B, probably not but could be brought before a judge for determination. Class A and Capital felonies, no way.
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subego  (op)
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Feb 14, 2014, 03:08 AM
 
Can you give the quick and dirty breakdown, or linkage to same?
     
Shaddim
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Feb 14, 2014, 04:12 AM
 
It varies, E & D being less severe, often can be pleaded down to probation or house arrest. These usually involve assault, possession drug crimes, burglary, and unarmed robbery. C & B are more severe examples of the above, and also include racketeering, embezzlement, fraud, aggravated assault, and narcotics trafficking. Class A examples are kidnapping, armed robbery, conspiracy, arson, manslaughter, rape, or repeated convictions of Class C & B felonies. Capital, of course, is murder, but also; serial rape, human trafficking, and terror bombings involving deaths.
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subego  (op)
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Feb 14, 2014, 05:27 AM
 
Thanks! I shall ponder.
     
ebuddy
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Feb 14, 2014, 07:47 AM
 
IMO, your first answer is still correct. They did their time. If they're expected to participate in society after having served their time, they should be allowed to participate.
ebuddy
     
BadKosh
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Feb 14, 2014, 09:02 AM
 
NO. You do the crime and get caught, you take your punishment. If part of that punishment is removal of rights so be it.
     
OAW
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Feb 14, 2014, 09:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
IMO, your first answer is still correct. They did their time. If they're expected to participate in society after having served their time, they should be allowed to participate.
This says it all.

All I will add is that if one's punishment for a particular crime doesn't involve a forfeiture of citizenship then as a society we should not be curtailing the rights of citizenship after their time has been served.

OAW
( Last edited by OAW; Feb 14, 2014 at 02:23 PM. )
     
Shaddim
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Feb 14, 2014, 02:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
IMO, your first answer is still correct. They did their time. If they're expected to participate in society after having served their time, they should be allowed to participate.
Prison time is only part of a punishment, in most cases. So the phrase "done their time" is a misnomer. Most felony perps spend many, many years on parole. For the worst and repeat offenders, who finally see the light of day, they spend the rest of their lives on probation. Society needs to keep track of them because they'll always pose a risk to others.
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OAW
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Feb 14, 2014, 02:29 PM
 
"Done their time" has never been limited to prison time alone. Parole and/or probation is included because the offender is still under state supervision.

OAW
     
ghporter
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Feb 14, 2014, 07:37 PM
 
As Bad Kosh noted, part of the punishment is being stripped of certain rights, including voting. Felons also lose their 2nd Amendment rights. Both are specifically part of the punishment for a felony conviction. There is a process in place in every state for petitioning for restoration of voting rights, and also a process (again state-by-state) for petitioning for restoration of 2nd Amendment rights.

I would be curious to find out how often felons petition for restoration of one but not the other.

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ebuddy
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Feb 14, 2014, 07:55 PM
 
I guess this is just one of those punitive measures that makes no sense at all to me.

It's like depriving a fat kid of his broccoli.
ebuddy
     
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Feb 15, 2014, 11:12 AM
 
It would seem that most arguments against felon disenfranchisement lean heavily on the proposition that this disproportionally impacts non-whites, thus: a higher percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics are incarcerated than their representation in the overall population, so felon disenfranchisement disproportionally affects the voting in those communities.

However one could state the stats in another way to say that people of color disproportionally wind up with felony convictions, implying that people of color disproportionally commit felonies. It's obviously more complex than that, since those same communities are disproportionally at an economic disadvantage, have disproportionally lower educational achievement levels, etc.

Whichever way you state it, there are a higher percentage of non-whites with felony convictions than whites with felony convictions. But would it really be appropriate to change the basic concept that a felony conviction costs one his or her voting rights because of this? I don't think so.

Instead, I think it more appropriate to have a uniform set of rules for reestablishment of voting rights across all states, based on the severity of the crime, indications of remorse, attempts to repay victims, etc. (I think the 2nd Amendment rights restoration process should also be uniform, but that's another issue).

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ebuddy
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Feb 15, 2014, 11:37 AM
 
I still don't understand the rationale for using one's voter eligibility as a carrot for avoiding crime. Again, you wouldn't deprive your overweight child of broccoli. You want them to do good and healthy things to rebuild their sense of belonging to a societal order over disinterest and chaos.
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turtle777
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Feb 15, 2014, 12:26 PM
 
Could we compromise and enact that felons can only vote a Libertarian or Tea Party ? ;-)

-t
     
Shaddim
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Feb 15, 2014, 03:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
I still don't understand the rationale for using one's voter eligibility as a carrot for avoiding crime. Again, you wouldn't deprive your overweight child of broccoli. You want them to do good and healthy things to rebuild their sense of belonging to a societal order over disinterest and chaos.
I agree, to a point. For probably 80% of convicted felons who have been released, the reinstatement of all their constitutional rights should be a matter of course, provided they keep their noses clean. Some don't fit into that, but most should.
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subego  (op)
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Feb 15, 2014, 09:34 PM
 
@Glenn

I agree with the theory of a uniform system, but it's never going to go beyond theory.

Firstly, states don't want to give up their say, so there goes uniformity. Likewise, we can't even pay for the prisons themselves, we're going to set up a panel to fairly review every felon? Where does that money come from?

I think it has to be an all or nothing type thing.
     
subego  (op)
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Feb 16, 2014, 12:11 AM
 
I want to throw in there, our prisons are a government service which has no constituency to answer to.

Well, they have a constituency, but they're all barred from voting in perpetuity.

Convienent setup, huh?
     
Shaddim
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Feb 16, 2014, 01:07 AM
 
I believe it's decidedly inconvenient. It would be better if people simply stopped harming & killing others, stripping them of their rights and wellbeing. However, prison doesn't exist to rehabilitate, or even to punish, but to segregate for the protection of "society".
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shifuimam
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Feb 16, 2014, 10:52 AM
 
I think the current criminal justice system is severely flawed because of how few rights you have once you are convicted of even a minor felony. A felony conviction for drug possession is currently treated the same as a felony conviction for, say, premeditated murder. They are two very, very different crimes, obviously.

I don't believe that a felony conviction should be a life sentence. Once you are convicted of a felony, you lose your right to bear arms, you lose your right to vote, you can't get a decent job, you won't get approved for loans in many cases, and it essentially ruins your life. It's no wonder that someone convicted of a crime at a young age is most likely to become a repeat criminal - why bother trying to be a stand-up citizen when one mistake has already branded you for life as a loser and a lost cause?
     
Shaddim
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Feb 16, 2014, 11:31 AM
 
It goes back to how the punishment (prison) breeds more crime. Locking non-violent offenders away with hardened criminals creates more hardened criminals, I see it all the time. My cousin, not the brightest bulb in the box, has been busted for drug possession, fraud, counterfeiting, and burglary. He'd never physically harmed anyone, he was simply lazy and looking for easy money. Finally a judge said, "enough's enough" and threw him in a state pen for 3 years to, as the judge said it, "give him perspective". He came out 2 years later and he wasn't the same person anymore.

His perspective did indeed change, because the free spirit, "I don't want to hurt anyone" rogue I'd grown up with had turned into a violent thug. Within 3 months of getting out of the pen he allegedly committed an armed robbery (he did do it, but got off on a technicality) and his parents and I had to fight to get him sorted out. That took a massive effort, including therapy, support, and understanding. He's still feckless and not entirely trustworthy, but at least he isn't robbing people or actively working to break the law anymore... aside from a minor pot possession charge a few months ago. Oh well, no one's perfect, he's still a work in progress.
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ghporter
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Feb 16, 2014, 12:58 PM
 
When it was felt by almost everyone that to be locked up was a "bad thing," it worked as a deterrent. We've had at least two (probably more) generations of social groups that consider prison time as just part of life, and in that time the adage that prison is a technical school for criminal behavior has been shown to be more than just apt.

On the other hand, the Constitution says that punishment cannot be "cruel or unusual," and in a lot of cases it seems to be "cruel" to deny a convict access to Maury and HBO. Prisons have work and education programs, but not enough convicts use them to change their mindsets; it's like the old joke about "how many shrinks does it take to change a light bulb?" The answer applies to prisons too: "it (they, the convicts) has to want to change. When time inside and new prison tats are considered positives by one's peer group, where's the motivation to change?

How do we, as a society, provide a motivation to criminals who have grown up knowing nothing but hustle and thoughtless violence to give that up - in favor of working hard for a lot more conventional lifestyls? Of course I'm only referring here to a small subset of the criminal population, but they tend to be the more violent, most likely to re-offend, and the most likely to wind up on the front page of the New York Times illustrating a story about how society is doomed.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
el chupacabra
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Feb 16, 2014, 11:02 PM
 
I like the idea of Mel Reynolds, as well as all the people involved in the Madoff scandal and such things being able to vote and participate in our politics again someday. Even though they knew what they were doing was wrong as grown adults and premeditated it each step of the way for years, I'm confident the prison system is rehabilitating or has rehabilitated them.
In Pictures: America's 10 Cushiest Prisons - Forbes
Madoff's Butner Prison Is The "Crown Jewel" Of Federal Prison System - Business Insider

Actually I think only corporations should be allowed to vote. I wouldn't make a law that directly strips away people's rights though... Too obvious. As government, I would encourage companies to instate longer work days, or just leave the standard as 8-10 hr shifts... I would brainwash people over years into believing it's a right to work longer hours, a right that should be demanded of employers. I would engineer long slow lines at all government offices. I would create stop-light riddled, confusing road and highway systems that bottleneck traffic just to waste what little time people have left in the day. By the time you get home you just want to have a drink, watch some sports, spend a wee bit a time with the kids, and pass out, to do it all over the next day. Not much time left to socialize, research politics or make informed decisions. That way only corporations who have people hired full time to attend all government meetings during business hours will be able to have an informed say.
the largest problem for Americans today is they eat too much food and dont have enough work to do to keep their heart healthy
     
subego  (op)
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Feb 17, 2014, 01:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
I believe it's decidedly inconvenient. It would be better if people simply stopped harming & killing others, stripping them of their rights and wellbeing. However, prison doesn't exist to rehabilitate, or even to punish, but to segregate for the protection of "society".
I mean convienent for the people running this scam.

As you alluded to, prisons are the University of Crime, and we pay the student loans.

My point really was that even if one doesn't have sympathy for the criminals, they should at least realize they're being fleeced.
     
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Feb 17, 2014, 04:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
I guess this is just one of those punitive measures that makes no sense at all to me.

It's like depriving a fat kid of his broccoli.
This.

(Is this practice of depriving people of the right to vote common in other countries? I'm only aware of the US doing it.)
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Shaddim
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Feb 17, 2014, 06:12 AM
 
Felony disenfranchisement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'm not seeing many states that don't allow people to vote after they've served their time. I don't get it. Looks like only 3 states are actually at issue; Iowa, Florida, and Kentucky. All swing states, interestingly enough.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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Feb 17, 2014, 08:18 AM
 
Reading that list makes it clear just how complex the issue is. A total of 11 states will somehow restrict the right to vote for felons, with various exceptions.
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Jawbone54
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Feb 17, 2014, 12:10 PM
 
I'm actually not 100% convinced that every adult over the age of 18 without a felony on record should be allowed to vote.

If someone can't answer basic questions about the way their government works, then they're liable to be swayed entirely by demagoguery and deceit, regardless of how it affects their country's foundation. Case in point: Huey P. Long.

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."
Ben Franklin
     
Shaddim
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Feb 17, 2014, 01:15 PM
 
That quote is hanging prominently in my office, JB. It's a personal favorite, and so true.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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P
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Feb 17, 2014, 02:18 PM
 
I hate to do this, but...

Ben Franklin didn't say that. The quote does not come from anyone famous, and in those always get attributed to various famous people. Some googling shows that has been attributed to Alexander Tytler, Alexis de Toqueville, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson along with Franklin. The earliest known source for that quote is from a newspaper column in 1951, where the editor supposedly quotes Alexander Tytler. Tytler wrote something similar but wordier, but the source for that exact quote is not known. Either it's a paraphrase - edited for length, you could say - or there is a source we're not aware of. Either way, it was not Franklin.

In general, beware of any quote attributed to any of the founding fathers, Mark Twain, Voltaire or Albert Einstein - they're usually misattributed.
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Jawbone54
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Feb 17, 2014, 03:40 PM
 
"Don't trust that P guy."

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Shaddim
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Feb 17, 2014, 05:12 PM
 
It's quoted in the book "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville, published in 1935. Where he sources it, I have no idea as he doesn't bother to provide an annotation for it. Still, it is a fairly well known saying and I've heard it all my life.
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Feb 17, 2014, 05:57 PM
 
The basic sentiment goes back to Plato (who lived through something similar in Athens). It was also well formulated by Heinlein, although slightly longer:

“‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”

My problem is mostly with the attribution to Benjamin Franklin - it cannot be sourced, and it strikes me as somewhat out of character for him to say. De Tocqueville is a possibility - if that is indeed the case, he would have written it in French, and the exact wording comes from whatever translator had his finger on the text, so that's not impossible. The most likely answer though is that the quote is a paraphrase of this (from Tytler, but not even that is 100% certain it seems):

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
ebuddy
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Feb 17, 2014, 09:13 PM
 
IMO, the answer for the above quandary is statutory limitations to government and separation of powers; a Republic.
ebuddy
     
ghporter
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Feb 17, 2014, 09:31 PM
 
I think a very good companion question might be "why should we concern ourselves with this, since so few non-felon adults bother to vote anyway?"

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego  (op)
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Feb 17, 2014, 09:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Felony disenfranchisement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'm not seeing many states that don't allow people to vote after they've served their time. I don't get it. Looks like only 3 states are actually at issue; Iowa, Florida, and Kentucky. All swing states, interestingly enough.
It's good things are going that way. Last time I discussed this with a felon they were no-go.


Edit: while not a life ruined by the system, his was made significantly harder. The cherry on top is by all tellings of the story I've heard, he was railroaded.

He's also an example of the specific problem when it comes to murder. Some people are murderers, some people have the capacity to "murder" exactly one person, and are going to punish themselves for it the rest of their lives. With the person I'm speaking of, it was much closer to self-defense while protecting family members, a good reason to kill someone if there ever was one, and he still punishes himself for it.
( Last edited by subego; Feb 17, 2014 at 10:45 PM. )
     
   
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