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Voting Rights of Convicted Felons

Convicted felons are individuals found to be guilty of serious offenses, including raping, first-degree murder, and kidnapping, therefore, leaving them no choice but to spend more than one year in prison. According to Whitt, 8% of the US’s current total population represents the number of convicted felons, and, as a result, the percentage is restricted from voting (11). These restrictions vary from one state to another, and, for instance, felons from the district of Colombia and Maine never lose their voting rights (Whitt 13).

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Prisoners from California and Indiana have their voting rights restored after they are released, however, felons from Alabama and Kentucky may have their voting rights restricted permanently (Whitt 13). Activists argue that no matter what crime an individual commits, the person remains a human being, and hence entitled to the same rights but they can be limited within specific levels. Therefore, to observe and respect the law, no convicted felons should not be able to vote

Convicted felons are humans, and, therefore, they can spot candidates with leadership qualities irrespective of their immoral behavior. According to Powell, 40% of the total crimes committed are a direct result of duress, a crime committed under pressure or threat, indicating how misjudged they can be on their behavior and conduct (383). A 2016 report suggests that 1 out of 3 convicted felons in Florida agree to be registered and vote (Powell 384). Not all offenders are typical criminals, and some of them committed crimes under threat. Convicted felons can make valued decisions on which candidate is best for a given position, and therefore, they should be given a chance to vote.

For the sake of reducing systemic racism in the judicial system, convicted felons should be allowed to vote. A report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows the disparities in the number of criminals about race, ethnic and religion. The report indicates that one-third of black men have been convicted with felons, a 38% increase from 1980 (Shineman 144). Of course, African-American men are known to lose most of the case hearings when it comes to justice. Therefore, to ensure that the registered number of African-American voters raises, convicted felons should be allowed to register as legible voters.

On the other hand, convicted felons are known to have broken laws and therefore they cannot be entitled to rights as they keep on breaking the law that constitutes the rights. Anyone who commits arson, vandalism, conducts human trafficking, and even practices tax evasion cannot observe and respect any law. Therefore they should not be entitled to all rights (Ruth 57). However, the first amendment insists that a person who is not able to practice certain laws and commits a crimes should never be denied other rights but those rights can be limited (Ruth 58).

Likewise, the fifteenth amendment provides each American citizen the right to vote. It means that even convicted felons are supposed to vote despite the amendment’s changing on April 19, 1792 (Ruth 60). Therefore, breaking the law and demanding rights from the same rules an individual breaks is not logical.

In conclusion, convicted felons are human beings who can decide which candidate can be a legible for a particular position. Despite breaking the law, which can result from coercion, convicted felons should be allowed to choose leaders they prefer, for they still possess the freedom of expression. Subsequently, to prevent systemic racism in the court system, felons should be allowed to cast votes. However, it is wrong to claim that convicted felons break the law which possesses their voting rights, and therefore they should not be allowed to vote. The First Amendment dictates that an individual is entitled to constitutional rights, including the right to vote irrespective of whether the person is morally upright.

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References

Powell, Lauren Latterell. “Concealed motives: Rethinking Fourteenth Amendment and voting rights challenges to felon disenfranchisement.” Michigan Journal of Race and Law vol. 22, no. 2, 2016, pp 383. Web.

Ruth, Terrance et al. “Ethics of disenfranchisement and voting rights in the US: Convicted felons, the homeless, and immigrants.” American Journal of Criminal Jstice vol. 1, no. 42, 2017, pp 56-68. Web.

Shineman, Victoria. “Restoring voting rights: evidence that reversing felony disenfranchisement increases political efficacy.Policy Studies vol. 3, no. 41, 2020, pp 131-150. Web.

Whitt, Matt. “Felon disenfranchisement and democratic legitimacy.” Social Theory and Practice vol. 7, no. 23, 2017, pp 119-127. Web.

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