Monday, November 10, 2008

Felons and Voting

Why can't people who were convicted of felonies vote? I mean, not ones who are still in prison, of course...

But take a guy who was convicted of, say, car theft 25 years ago, did six months in County Jail and then turned his life around. He's generous with his time doing volunteer work, tutors kids at the library, speaks up at school board meetings, etc. Does "felon" really describe in any meaningful way who he is or what he does today?

The fact that he can't vote because of a decades-ago act of stupidity seems very unjust, to me.

I suspect that part of this is to prevent blacks and hispanics from voting in greater numbers. It seems like white teenagers caught with drugs are given probation and treated like confused, troubled kids with a problem who need help, and black teenagers are treated like dangerous criminals who need the harshest possible punishment because they are such a "menace."

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