What are ten reasons why a person should not continue to be deprived of the right to vote after release from prison?
The question of whether people should be allowed to vote after leaving prison has been widely debated. The first issue one needs to address is that voting is a fundamental right in a democracy. The United States was founded on the principle of "no taxation without representation," and as former prisoners will be required to pay taxes, depriving them of the right to vote goes against a fundamental founding principle of the country. Even worse, perhaps, is that it opens the door to voting restrictions in a way that creates a slippery slope to limiting to vote to favored groups of people. Historically, voting restrictions such as poll taxes and literacy tests were used to disenfranchise the poor and minorities and act as a way of restricting power to rich white men.
Another group of issues revolve around justice for prisoners. People may have gone to prison for crimes they did not commit, in which case it would be unfair to blame them for a miscarriage of justice. Some people have been imprisoned for laws that have been repealed or for minor infractions such as possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use; it seems unfair to disenfranchise a person for an act now legal in many states. People may have been in prison for crimes committed when they were relatively young and it seems unjust to keep punishing them decades later. One could also argue that once people have served their sentences, they have paid their debt to society and should no longer continue to be punished. Finally, one major goal in criminal justice is rehabilitation, which means that as people atone for crimes and work on self-improvement, they should be fully reintegrated into society.
Another major voting issue is differential incarceration rates, with African Americans being incarcerated at a far higher rate than white people. This means that depriving ex-prisoners of the vote leads to racial inequality.
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