Should Felons be allowed to Vote?

 


 

Introduction, Thesis, Audience, and Purpose

There are human rights that ensure fairness and justice all over the world. Justice can only be realized if people are allowed to enjoy the same rights. Human rights include the right to vote. This implies that following the argument of fairness ensured through enjoying the same human rights, all people should be allowed to vote. However, not all people enjoy the right to vote. Such people include the minors, mentally challenged, and felons. All these people are considered to have a weakness that deprives them the ability to make informed decisions and thus cannot be trusted in electing political leaders to lead the nation. A felon is a person who has committed a major crime amounting to a conviction by the court of law of over a year or even death. Considering the length of time a person stays in jail, it can be logical to argue that a felon should not be allowed to vote. This is based on the fact that a felon stays in prison for over a year and thus will not be free to enjoy the services of the political leaders he is allowed to vote. Additionally, a felon is likely to be subjected to death penalty and this means that he will never require the services of political leaders and thus if allowed to vote, he will not elect political leaders to serve the interests of the public since he does not mind how the country he does not belong to anymore is managed. However, being convicted of a felony does not deprive a person of his citizenship. One still remains a citizen and a human being who should enjoy rights other people do and thus should not be disfranchised for life. This supports the argument by Green (2014) that felons should be allowed to vote and in fact, the strict rules preventing them from voting should be changed. Writing to the public and the justice system, Green (2014) notes that “By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes.” This is an indication the strict laws on felons do not help them transform as it should be but rather drive them back to prisons; prisons become their home as they commit one crime after another. Green (2014) writes to request for change of the current disfranchising rules since they are so mean on felons.

Appeal to Logos, Ethos, and Pathos

Green (2014) uses appeal to logos, ethos, and pathos to support his argument that felons should not be allowed to vote.Being an expert in the field of justice, Green (2014) urges the federal system to change the strict rules on felons and restore their right to vote. If the rules continue to be that strict and felons are not treated as people, they will only be subjected to more serious crimes as a result of the stigma they are exposed to. This is based on the fact that felons are labeled as criminals even after serving their sentence and this makes them feel as outsiders in their own country. They might be forced to think that their only comfortable place is in prison. The data is very clear that “about 2.5 percent of the nation’s voting age population is denied the right to vote because of current or previous felony convictions. Of those, nearly 40 percent are black. In 2010, the Sentencing Project found that nearly 8 percent of the adult black population — or 1 in 13 people — was disenfranchised” (Green, 2014). This means that the strict rules are out to ensure injustice on the blacks.

Supporting Detail

Even though it is more logical that felons are not allowed to vote because they are convicted for serious crimes and thus cannot be trusted with votes, it is notable that there are people who fight for their voting rights. Such people base their argument on the basis that felons have been punished for their crimes and thus should not be punished for the same crime twice. Once felons have been sentenced to prison, this is enough punishment for the committed crime (Green, 2014). Based on statistics in which around 5.8 million Americans for example are felons, it is arguable that if denied the right to vote,so many people in the country will be treated unfairly and the justice system will not be representing their interests. The elected leaders will not be a representation of the public because a substantial number is not represented in selecting them. This argument is supported by Frost, Joshua and Clear(2010) that since felons have been deprived of their freedom to run freely in the community as they serve their sentence, they should not be deprived of their right to vote as well. This will be double punishment for the same crime and this is unfair. Felons should thus be sentenced to prison but given a chance to vote so that they elect leaders who will make the society a better place to live in and maybe prevent future crimes. This is based on the fact that some felons might be pushed into committing crimes such as robbery with violence as a result of poverty due the conditions they live (FinKelman, 2013). This suggests that such felons are able to transform the living conditions in the societies they belong to by being allowed to vote thus selecting political leaders who mind their welfare. The same people argue that felons who are serving their prison sentence are doing so as they undertake rehabilitation services in order to change. They are trained to change for the better and thus are able to make rational and wise decisions such as voting (Dumas, 2012). This mostly goes for the felons who are sentenced to several-year imprisonment since they will soon be free and thus require participating in electing political leaders who will represent their needs in the future. The same people consider the rights of ex-felons who are denied the right to vote in several states. They argue that ex-felons have already served their sentences and thus should not be denied the right to vote. They have already paid for their crime and should be treated as normal people enjoying the rights other people enjoy (Gonchar, 2014). Since they have served the sentences and are now out of prison, they should be given the chance to elect political leaders who will represent their interests just like other citizens. 

 

 

Counter-arguments

Since a felony is a serious crime in the US, a person who commits it (a felon) should be sentenced to death or long-term sentence. Felonies are crimes such as murder, robbery with violence, arson, burglary, and rape among others. Denying felons the right to vote is based on the argument of the basis of irrational or uniformed decisions felons make. This is because it is argued that felons get into prison as a result of poor decision making. They make mistakes that lead them into committing serious crimes landing them into prison. If allowed to vote, such felons will likely make poor decision in choosing the political leaders and would thus not have served the interests and needs of the free citizens. However, this opposing argument is not valid because felons get into prison and undergo rehabilitation services that help them transform and thus should be treated as normal people once out of prison.  Further, failing to allow felons to vote can also be explained by the fact that most of them are sentenced to death penalty and thus are not in need of political leadership in a country. It does not matter the type of political leadership and leaders a country has for felons who will be persecuted for the committed crimes. Their place is in prison until their death and thus should be restricted from voting because it does not matter whether they vote or not.

Conclusion

Once in prison, felons should not be allowed to vote because they are likely to make wrong decisions. This is different for ex-felons who have already served their sentence and thus is apparently unfair to punish them two times for the same crime. This is because felons have paid for their crimes to the society by serving their sentences, thus they do not owe any debt to the society.

 

 

References

Dumas, M.B. (2012).Diving into the bitstream: Information technology meets society in a digital world. NY: Routledge..

FinKelman, P. (2013). Encyclopedia of American civil liberties. NY: Routldge.

Frost, N. A., Joshua, D., & Clear, T. R. (2010).Contemporary issues in criminal justice policy: Policy proposals from the American society of criminology conference. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Gonchar, M. (2014). Should felons be allowed to vote after they have served their time? The New York Times.Retrieved from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/18/should-convicted-felons-be-allowed-to-vote-after-theyve-served-their-time/.

Green, M. (2014). Should felons have the right to vote?Retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/education/2014/02/28/should-felons-have-the-right-to-vote/.