Why are 4.3 million US voters being denied their right to vote? It's not that they lack the proper identification. It's that 31 states have decided that if you've committed a felony, you lose your right to vote -- forever.
Is that fair? Is it right? Well, there's more behind it than just a form of continuing punishment in perpetuity.
The right to speech, to religion, the right to due process and the right to own property are not denied to the formerly incarcerated. So what's really behind this? You probably won't be surprised. Race.
The fear that a felon can't reintegrate into society is the great misconception. Felons are people too. What separates them from us is they're people who made a mistake. We may hate their crime, but we don't have to hate them forever... unless of course, you're a crime and punishment Republican. In that case, take out the fuel and the matches to stoke the flames of fear.
Consider this: one in three Black men in the US, of voting age, is denied the right to vote by state restrictions for felons. In 2010, that was 5.8 million men. They made a bad decision somewhere in their lives. And they paid for it, whether it was murder or simply drug possession. If you do the time you should be fine. In less than half the states, that's true.
In those places when they're released, they're not whole. They're stigmatized as second class citizens. That opens the door to recidivism, not an incentive to make the best of a second chance. It builds up resentment and a disenfranchisement. Hardly the desired effects of the deterrent of prison.
Isn't it time to let a man or woman pay his/her debt society and welcome them back? Watch this segment from The Cycle. Restoring voting rights isn't a risk. It's a reward for making amends and paying one's debt to society.