Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Felon Voting

In our chapters on civil rights and political participation, we discuss laws that forbid voting by felons. In the case of Farrakhan v. Gregoire, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a Washington State law disenfranchising prisoners runs afoul of the federal Voting Rights Act.  AP reports:

The issues the ruling raises about racial bias in the justice system are not unique to Washington state, said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C., group promoting sentencing reform.
"They are issues that permeate the justice system and are relevant in every state," he said.
Mauer said that an estimated 5.3 million people nationwide are ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction.
Tuesday's court's ruling is "an embarrassment," said Trent England, a policy director at Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington state.
"It flies in the face of precedent," he said. "Not only is felon disenfranchisement constitutional but it's good policy. People who commit the most heinous crimes should be deprived of their voice in our system of government at least for a time."