During the CNN town hall, when US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stated his support for a universal reenfranchisement of the voting rights for felons including the Boston Marathon Bombers (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev) and sexual offenders and referring to them as “terrible people” he clearly missed the point. As did South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) and US Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Neither of these candidates for President grasped the opportunity to discuss this issue based on restorative justice and call the nation’s attention to the fact, linkage of voting rights with felonies was a Southern Strategy to violate the 15th Amendment (Voting Rights for Black males) and the installation of Jim Crow Laws. This is something northern states adopted and should have never occurred.
Granted, societally laws can be passed to exclude certain “objectionable people from participating in a society based on acts they have committed against society, but that is a separate issue. It would be easy to deny voting rights to a convicted terrorist or child molester, but the rash of non-violent offenders that inhabit prisons across the nation is a moral injustice and their loss of enfranchisement only exacerbates their reintegration into society.
Additionally, the counting of these people as residents of the communities in which they are housed is another moral outrage. Why should an incarcerated person be counted as part of the census in these communities? Why, when military members join up are, they afforded a “home of record” while they travel about the country and throughout the world, but ultimately know where they are from, couldn’t a prisoner be giving the same rights and privileges? Wouldn’t this keep them connected to the place they are from rather than the situation in which they exist?
Also, the losses incurred for the communities they left is an example of how those communities lose not only because of the crime committed, but the count of the person, which results in lower federal and state funding. It structurally erodes the community.