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Should felons be allowed to vote? Show more Show less

States within the U.S. differ significantly on policies relating to the disenfranchisement of felons. While on the one hand felons should be punished for disrespect of the law, they are also citizens with the right to be represented like anyone else. So, should felons never be able to vote again? Should they be granted the right to vote once they have completed their sentence? Or should they never lose the right to vote, even whilst serving their sentence?

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 African-American men

Felons are disproportionately made up of African-American men, with roughly a third of African-American men having felony convictions. Not allowing felons to vote either during or after their sentence amounts to voter suppression of African-American men.

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Context

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The Argument

African-American men are disproportionately represented in prison populations. One third of African-American men in the U.S. have a felony,[1] and African-Americans make up almost 40% of prison inmates[2] despite making up only 12% of the population.[3] This means that disenfranchisement in practice serves to prevent African-American men specifically from voting. This has been called the 'New Jim Crow'[4] - a way for the government to legally discriminate against the African-American population. Mass incarceration in the U.S. has served to subjugate African-American men, and to stop felons from voting at any time only further deprives them of their rights.

Counter arguments

The policy of disenfranchisement of felons has nothing to do with race. It is to do with the sort of people society benefits from having participate in the democratic process. Regardless of race, felons have displayed they do not deserve to be able to vote.

Framing

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Premises

[P1] The criminal justice system disproportionately targets African-American men. [P2] To take away felons' right to vote is to specifically disenfranchise African-American men.

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.

Proponents

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Further Reading

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References

  1. https://www.sentencingproject.org/news/5593
  2. https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_race.jsp
  3. https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf
  4. https://www.npr.org/2012/01/16/145175694/legal-scholar-jim-crow-still-exists-in-america

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This page was last edited on Monday, 27 Jan 2020 at 17:30 UTC