The felony disenfranchisement law was first implemented way back in ancient Romans and Greeks. Deprivation the convict’s right, confiscation of private properties and exposure to death are consequence of having a felony record during the earlier times. The Englishman gave birth to the disfranchisement of offenders in America.
Nowadays, only three states in America continue to impose felony disfranchisement and the illegibility to vote to all citizens with a felony record which are states of Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia. Conviction with felony record has its own consequence merely different from the felony disfranchisement implementation in earlier times. Today, felonies don’t have the right to vote, serve on a jury or even hold a position in the government which makes them different from an ordinary people, the lowest of the citizens.
The implantation of felony disfranchisement is one of the political anomalies in America or even in other countries. As we all know, voting is a not only a privilege but a right that any man wants to exercise. The United States Government eliminates constraints on voting whether by court or legislative action. The citizens convicted by felony are the only few who can not exercise their voting rights during elections (Rockville, 1986).
Most of the pro - disfranchisement are arguing that giving the ex-felons a right to vote may serve as a risk in the society since an election process is a essential activity for the development of a state. Pro – disfranchisement cited some problems that may occur when a offender is given a right to cast a vote. They say that it may harm the law if changed, voter fraud may occur or the “purity” of ballots may be affected (cited in Human rights Watch). These reasons are some of those who make the ex-felons unrightfully voters. A good example of a convicted felon was Richardson v. Ramirez who was barred from voting without violating the Fourteenth Amendment. Richardson v. Ramirez leaves open a valid claim that the unequal enforcement of disfranchisement laws is unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs argued that California counties’ different interpretations of “infamous crime” meant that the law was unequally applied. The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to the California Supreme Court to decide this issue, but before it could rule, California changed its law (Brennan 2007). A guy named Baker v. Pataki from New York City was a very good example of “purposeful racial discrimination” having him convicted by felony. A mixed Afro-American Latino challenged New York’s federal court who denied the votes of several felony offenders, in prison or on parole. He said that these act is merely against the Voting Rights Act 1968 since it has a disproportionate racial impact. The lower court however dismissed the case reasoning that the U.S Supreme court in Richardson v. Ramirez upheld the disfranchisement law. They also found that Voting Rights Act did not apply to such laws.
The effect of felony disfranchisement law has been drastically implemented in the past century since there are increasing numbers of criminals that are sentenced by felony; they are sent to prison and stay there for a long time. Voting is a right, and equal right must be given to a citizen even if he or she was an offender of the law. Issues in racial discrimination and human rights must take into consideration.
Human Rights Watch and the Sentencing Project (October 1998). Losing the vote: the impact of felony disenfranchisement laws in the united states. Retrieved January 17, 2008, from http://www.hrw.org/reports98/vote/
Westat, Inc. (December 1986). Historical corrections statistics in the united states.