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The Liberal Assault on Our Federal Republic

Part III: Voting Rights for Ex-Prisoners

Michael A. Wallace

mwallace@americasvoices.org      
biography
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July 30, 2001

Section 1

What Itís About

This plank advocates full restoration of voting rights for "ex-prisoners" or "former prisoners".

Complex Issue

The very title of this plank reflects deliberate distortion of fact and masks malicious intent. 1  This is a complex issue that is being intentionally simplified and politicized by liberals.
  It is a subject laced with claims of racism to garner sympathetic support.  Many moderate liberal followers perhaps donít realize they are being misled, or perhaps under-appreciate the potential impact in their own communities that would result by blindly accepting liberal propaganda on the subject.

Iíll explain the basic nature of the liberal argument, refuting their distortions of fact.  Iíll address what I believe is the true underlying issue that makes this plank important to the liberal agenda.  Despite the liberal distortion and subterfuge, Iíll show that the issue is not as bleak as they paint it, and that the real merits of the issue are bipartisan, and not partisan as they portray.

Liberal Argument

Liberals have four main points they use to argue for restoration of a felonís voting rights. (They also have one underlying reason for their position they donít admit publicly.)  The first argument is the notion of "no taxation without representation".  The second is the notion that people who have "paid their dues" to society should be able to participate fully in society.  The third is the notion that denying felons the right to vote violates the Constitution.  The fourth argument holds disenfranchisement is racially biased.

Liberals say that we should let "ex-felons" 2 vote because they pay taxes like the rest of us. "No taxation without representation!", they exclaim. 3  It is a phrase that strikes at notions of "fairness", deliberately chosen by liberals because they know the phrase resonates in the psyche of conservatives.

Liberals might react like Pavlovís dogs to conditioned phrases, but most conservatives donít.  Tell me, is it "fair" to a felonís victims that the felony was committed?  Why donít we worry more about victims than their transgressors?  Is it "fair" that law-abiding taxpayers shoulder the fiscal burden of trying and incarcerating lawbreakers?  Why donít we weigh in balance the total cost of these crimes versus the taxes these felons might pay?

Iím sorry, I cannot generate much sympathy for the felon.  An admittedly emotional reason is they pretty much got what they deserved.  A more logical reason is liberal claims about the extent of lifetime disenfranchisement for the majority of felons are greatly exaggerated.  They are wrong on the facts.

The second argument liberals use is if a person "does the time" for the crime, all should be forgiven.  That perhaps might be supportable, yet liberals donít even want felons to completely pay for their crimes before regaining the privilege of voting.  State Representative Kenneth P. Green (Democrat), from Connecticut, for example, thinks itís OK for felons on probation to vote. 4  Such a position makes the argument non-supportable in the view of many Americans.

Liberals claim that Constitutional rights are being violated, specifically citing the 14th Amendment.  What they conveniently ignore in the claim is a little phrase in Section 1, Article II, italicized here:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.  No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the lawsÖ."

One thing defendants and convicted criminals in this country receive is certainly due process of law.

Finally, the NAACP and others have restoration of the vote for "ex-felons" as a top legislative priority because, they say, blacks have a higher rate of conviction and incarceration. 5,6  I acknowledge that some folks in this country are racists, and do discriminate.  I find it beyond reason, however, to believe that today, local, State and Federal law enforcement collude to intentionally deny civil rights to any particular group of citizens.

I have a very hard time accepting NAACP claims that higher rates of conviction and incarceration denote blatant prejudice and discrimination, and I resent the inference that crime being committed is either a secondary issue or not even an issue at all.  I reject the muted contention that such crimes should be forgiven because a person of color committed them.  Definitely, no!

The concept should remain that if any person commits a crime, they forfeit certain civil rights Ė temporarily or permanently, as the facts warrant.  Ethnicity and skin color, in my opinion, are irrelevant factors running far behind the singular fact that the vast majority of felons, regardless of race, are nabbed and convicted because they truly did the crime.

Our society does place a penalty upon those who have committed felonies and we should not apologize for it.  Playing the race card, as some people reflexively are wont to do, performs a disservice to our multicultural society.

1  When liberals talk about the disenfranchisement of convicted criminals, they are talking only about felons.  Conviction of a felony impacts voting rights in most States.  A few facts may help understand the little semantic game the liberals are playing here.  They have direct bearing on the falsehood and distortion of the liberal argument.

  • Violent offenses are labeled as felonies Ė murder, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and other violent acts like negligent manslaughter and kidnapping.  Property offenses such as burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and fraud and forgery are also felonies as are drug offenses of possession or trafficking, and weapons offenses.

  • People convicted of crime, whether felony or not, face three basic types of sentences Ė prison confinement, jail confinement, and probation.

"Probation is a sentence involving supervised release under conditions specified by the court and takes two forms:  straight probation and a split sentence.  Straight probation is probation with no confinement, and a split sentence is probation combined with confinement."

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, July 1999, NCJ 175045, Felony Sentencing in the United States, 1996, by Jodi M. Brown and Patrick A. Langan

Once a felon, always a felon, unless pardoned.  For this reason, I will not use the disingenuous term that liberals use Ė "ex-felon", unless in the context of quoting them.

3  This is just one of Jesse Jackson's pet phrases.

HB05042, State of Connecticut General Assembly, January 2001 Session, introduced by Representative Green, 1st District, An Act Restoring Voting Rights of Convicted Felons Who Are On Probation "Statement of purpose:  To allow individuals in the community to vote regardless of their judicial system label."  Representative Green wants to amend three sections of the general statutes "to restore the voting rights of individuals who have been convicted of a felony and are on probation." (Author's note: The bill was cosponsored by three other Representatives, also Democrats.  In 1998, Connecticut was among the top ten States with the highest rates of supervision for probationers per 100,000 adult residents - according to Bureau of Justice statistics.)

5  NAACP News, April 4, 2001, NAACP Appeals For Voting Rights For Ex-Felony Offenders.  NAACP officials presented testimony to the Maryland State Senate's Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee, supporting restoration of voting rights to ex-felony offenders as "one of its top legislative priorities."

Complaints that African Americans make up 1/3 of all felony conviction, yet African Americans make up only 13% of the total US population, lead to charges of racial discrimination.  The argument is almost to the point of being verbalized that if African Americans comprise 15% of a State's population, then the State's prison population shouldn't be more than 15% African American, otherwise it proves discrimination.

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Copyright © Copyright © 2020, 2003, 2004 by Michael A. Wallace & America's Voices, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Michael A. Wallace is a registered Republican, a former Eagle Scout, a Lifetime Member of the National Rifle Association, a strong believer in Second Amendment rights, a retired Marine officer, and a pro-life advocate Ė- all things liberals seem to dislike.  In addition to his affiliation with America's Voices, Mike is a founding member of ConservaVets, a conservative veteran's organization (which has since become Rally4America).  Mike uses thorough constitutional and historical research to analyze and explain key moral and political issues of the day.  He particularly enjoys debunking the myths and lies perpetrated by the many liberal groups who claim to speak for most Americans and by those who misrepresent Constitutional principles to further their own agendas.  E-mail Mike at mwallace@americasvoices.org.

 

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