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Should felons be allowed to vote? Show more Show less
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According to the Sentencing Project, an estimated 6.1 million Americans have lost their voting rights because of felony disenfranchisement laws as of 2016. Lawmakers are divided about its implications: what constitutes human rights and what justifies taking them away, especially given a justice system that disproportionately imprisons minorities and the poor?

Felons should be able to vote even while in prison Show more Show less

All citizens should have the right to vote regardless of their circumstances.
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The criminal justice system targets minorities

Felons are disproportionately comprised of minorities, particularly African-American men. Felony disenfranchisement is thus a legal means of suppressing their votes.

The Argument

The criminal justice system's racial disparities show that felony disenfranchisement is an indication of racism. According to the Sentencing Project, one-third of African-American men in the U.S. have a felony. [1]In fact, African-Americans comprise almost 40% of prison inmates despite making up only 12% of the population. [2] Furthermore, "1 of every 13 African-Americans has lost their voting rights due to felony disenfranchisement laws, vs. 1 in every 56 non-black voters." [3] This shows that disenfranchisement serves to prevent African-Americans specifically from voting. It is ultimately a way for the government to legally discriminate against the African-American population and has even been called the "New Jim Crow." [4] Incarceration statistics indicate that this disparity also applies to other minority populations. For example, "Hispanic men are 2.3 times are likely as white men to be incarcerated." [5] Thus, the United State's incarceration system has served to subjugate minorities by finding a legal means of taking away their voting rights.

Counter arguments

Disenfranchising felons is not a racially discriminatory practice. The criminal justice system disenfranchises all felons, not only minorities. The overrepresentation of minorities in felon disenfranchisement is merely an unfortunate coincidence.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] The criminal justice system disproportionately targets minorities, especially African-American men. [P2] Felony disenfranchisement is an intentional effort to take away minorities' voting rights.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Not letting felons vote is nothing to do with race; it is about looking out for the good of society.

References

  1. https://www.sentencingproject.org/news/5593
  2. https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf
  3. https://www.sentencingproject.org/issues/felony-disenfranchisement/
  4. https://www.npr.org/2012/01/16/145175694/legal-scholar-jim-crow-still-exists-in-america
  5. https://www.sentencingproject.org/issues/racial-disparity/
This page was last edited on Friday, 24 Jul 2020 at 01:20 UTC

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