Felons Should Not Be Valued!

The documentary by Brian Schodorf, “Poverty Swells the Streets of Chicago,” illuminates a few truths about homelessness, while grossly misleading the audience in other ways. The issue of handicapped homeless people is a real issue and needs to be addressed by the federal government. More assistance should be given to handicapped individuals who are no longer able to work or function normally in society. Additionally they point out how important it is for the welfare system to go through a change, in order to assist single mothers and discourage laziness and dependence. However, I would like to comment on the documentary overlooking the comments made in regards to convicts and the right to hold a decent job.

It is mentioned that convicts released from prison are brought to the Mission because they have nowhere to go. Later a woman living in Section 8 housing states that people are in poverty because employers will not hire you if you have a record or if you’ve been in jail. NO KIDDING!! The idea that a felon, when released from prison, should have first class citizenship and not be denied a job based on his previous actions is beyond ludicrous. The minimal sentence for statutory rape by an individual in Illinois, over the age of 17, on a victim 13 years old or younger is 6 years in prison, with a maximum of 30 years. The thought that an individual can commit such a heinous crime and 30 years later be allowed to live in society again, is ridiculous in itself; but to add that this individual is allowed to VOTE and be viewed as a first class citizen is truly insane.

It was posed in class that homeless people do not meet Judith Shklar’s definition of a citizen with standing, in her book American Citizenship, due to there inability to find a decent job and contribute to the work force, hence the community. Applying this idea to homeless individuals with a record, Shklar would say that it is not fair that these people are denied the opportunity to work, if they want to, since well- paying jobs are a right that everyone should have. WRONG: if someone commits a crime worthy of spending time in jail, they have FORFEITED THEIR CITIZENSHIP. These individuals do not deserve first class citizenship. If they did, what incentive would people have to not commit crimes? Jail offers a shelter from the elements and adequate food and healthcare, which is more than some homeless have on the street. The whole point of someone having a criminal record is to show others what crimes they have committed. The moment an individual decides to commit a felony, is the moment they forfeit opportunity and privilege. Voting and working are privileges. These privileges were denied to many, but are now made available to the majority of society. However, this majority should not include criminals.

 

 

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19 Responses to Felons Should Not Be Valued!

  1. zacha90 says:

    First and foremost, I disagree with your position. The point of prison is to act both as a punishment and rehabilitation for the criminal. Once they are out of prison, how else are we supposed to treat them other than with equality under the law. America “has no caste system”. I would also ask what the point of a sentence if they are to pay for their crime forever?

    In a justice system rampant with injustice and prejudice, especially against the poor and minorities, why would anyone argue we should further punish the most marginalized of society? The people who need representation the most are those who are poor and down trodden. They cannot buy influence, the only means of political capital they have is their right to vote, which you would have taken away because of a some label or mistake which under the law they have already paid for with their time. What you are suggesting…is that committing a crime the majority deems to be more heinous than another should be able to deny someone their right to representation forever, relegating them to being a nigh-alien in their own country.

    An example of this inequality is the crack v. cocaine laws in this country. One punishes offenders 100 times more than the other. Now, under your example, not only are crack users (typically poor minorities) punished 100 times harder, they are also stripped of their citizenship, because according to this argument, you are no longer a citizen, even if you regret, serve your time or change as a person, because you have committed a crime.

    Furthermore..denying them the ability to work or have safe housing simply compounds the problem. They have no legitimate way to gain money, so they turn back to drugs. They cannot get out of their neighborhoods, so they continue to associate with drug users, and eventually the problem becomes magnified and harms society even more. They also have no political power to change their own situation. They become our version of “untouchables” and nothing gets solved.

  2. dennisball says:

    You have a very interesting argument kmuth0307 and while I was reading I couldn’t help but wonder if that was your actual opinion or if you simply wrote this post with such a radical point of view in order to receive a lot of comments.

    I would like to address the claim you made that “if someone commits a crime worthy of spending time in jail, they have FORFEITED THEIR CITIZENSHIP (see above)”. In the United States, and the majority of civilized countries, the main purpose of the prison system is to rehabilitate criminals so that when they are released they can enter back into society as functioning citizens. To say that once someone has been convicted of a crime and served their sentence, and after they are released they should not be allowed the basic rights of a citizen is preposterous. If former convicts are released but not allowed a job with decent wages in which they can support themselves then what is to stop them from simply breaking the law again, except this time out of desperation?

    If you honestly believe that once convicted, a person sacrifices their rights to vote or to have a decent paying job, then perhaps we should simply execute every person convicted? If that seems too extreme then maybe we can just deport every person convicted of a felony to some crappy country Canada or France ( that was a joke, I hope no one over reacts…but you see my point).

    If we want the penal system to be successful then there needs to be a focus on re-integrating convicts back into society, not ostracizing them. Other wise they are simply going to end up back in prison, which is already immensely overcrowded, and gulping down massive government funding.

  3. palaie says:

    I find your post very interesting and I agree to a certain extent that someone who has committed a felony should not be given the privilege of being considered a citizen. Although Shklar may seem a little extreme at times in her definition of citizenship, I agree with the point that she makes regarding citizenship only having value because it is exclusive rather than inclusive. The right to vote and have a say in how government shapes our society is a right for every law-abiding citizen that is a positive member of society. However, once someone commits a crime they have automatically shown their lack of respect for those laws as well as the citizens that follow them. Therefore, in a country with an ideal justice system, what makes sense is to punish those who commit crimes by taking away their potential to become a first class citizen.

    Notice I said “ideal” justice system. Everyone knows that this is not the case in the United States or any other country. People are wrongfully convicted on a daily basis and innocent people lose their rights as citizens without ever having done anything wrong. Just because someone has been convicted of a felony does not mean that they can not change and regret the choices that they have made. There should be an incentive for the convicted to turn their lives around and that incentive should be the ability to once again gain back their citizenship.

    I realize that it is difficult for us to have someone who has been convicted of a crime teach our children at school or be members of our communities. However, we are all human and none of us are saints. It is the right of every human being to be able to make up their mistakes and, whether we like it or not, convicts are no exception.

  4. davehopkins2 says:

    I personally disagree with the original poster’s line of thinking. If we look to set all felons aside as “second-class citizens”, then we risk losing the overall point of the criminal justice system. Many view the criminal justice system to be based, in many cases, on serving time in prison according to the severity of the crime committed. This sort of system serves several purposes. Among these purposes seem to be: repaying the debt to society one has incurred by committing a crime and rehabilitating a criminal to once again be a functioning member of society. If we accept the second of these purposes as true, then we seem to be defeating this purpose by saying, as the original poster did, that “These individuals do not deserve first class citizenship.” If we cannot rehabilitate convicted felons to the point at which they can hold jobs, then for what exactly are we rehabilitating them?

    Our criminal justice system usually issues punishments in accordance with the severity of the crime. In citing the punishment for statutory rape, I feel as though the original poster expresses more of a problem with the punishment for THAT crime, rather than the fact that convicted criminals are released into society after serving their sentences. I feel that the original poster would agree with the notion that persons convicted of first degree murder do not deserve the right to jobs and voting rights, and thus full citizenship as Shklar describes. In many cases, this is exactly what happens. However, to say as kmuth0307 has, that “if someone commits a crime worthy of spending time in jail, they have FORFEITED THEIR CITIZENSHIP.”, implies that persons who have spent time in jail for what many would consider to be lesser crimes, such as drug-related offenses, deserve to be stripped of full citizenship rights. If kmuth0307 is correct in her assessment, then Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should have been stripped of his citizenship rights as Shklar described them, as he spent time in jail. In short, I argue that this statement is an over-generalization.

    In addition to this objection, I believe kmuth0307’s proposal would make it so that spending time in jail becomes inconsequential and only serves as punishment rather than repaying one’s debts to society. If we allow this system to proceed as the poster describes, then there really appears to be no point in having criminals serve anything other than life sentences. If committing ANY felony causes one to forfeit the right to employment, then many people will continue to be forced into homelessness upon their release from prison. Is this really what we want for society? Perhaps this would force these people into deciding to commit further crimes out of desperation. Does this help anyone? I do not believe that this is the intention behind the structure of our justice system, nor should it be.

  5. kmuth0307 says:

    I understand and respect both of your comments. My radical views were written with the mindset of cruel and violent crimes. I do agree that there should be somewhat of a hierarchy of crimes, with selling marijuana near the bottom, and murder towards the top. I used an extreme example to try to illustrate my point. The ten year old girl who is sexually molested has serious emotional, and sometimes physical, issues the rest of her life. This is not her decision, it is the felon’s. Is it fair that she should suffer her entire life? Concerning standing and citizenship, regardless of how the government attempts to integrate people back into society, these citizens will always be different. The only way to have the rapist treated as an equal when brought out of prison is to hide the fact that they were imprisoned for molesting a ten year old girl. This is not safe or smart since they are at risk for doing it again. (Would you want your 12 year old daughter to have a history teacher who was imprisoned for a violent rape crime?? probably not.) When I stated they forfeit their citizenship, I was not implying that they become slaves or an absent member of society, I just mean that they are not the same as those who have not been imprisoned. They have forfeited their equality because of their crime. They may be free to search for work in whatever way they see fit, however people are hesitant to trust them, given their past actions. It is really a forfeit of social and political equality. As a side note, my view on ex-convicts’ voting rights when out of prison and in society is obviously not that radical, 12 states feel the same way.

  6. bkemeter says:

    kmuth0307, I think you have a very short sided view of what a felon can be. Felonies do not need to be horrible crimes. Here’s an example of someone you think has no right to be a citizen:

    I live in a small town where hunting is a very common pastime. A kid I know, who was in his mid-twenties went to the local Sportsmen’s club to sight in his rifle, a registered and 100% legal hunting weapon, less than four miles from his house. After he was done, he placed the rifle, unloaded, and ammunition in the back seat of his truck, legally they must either separated or locked away in the trunk. Sure he should have known the rule, but really four miles, whats the chance. A local cop, who is well known for going after people they don’t like, saw something hanging from his rear-view mirror and declared it to be distracting and pulled him over. Because of the gun in his backseat he is now a felon. He is now a father, who works over forty hours to provide for his daughter. To me that quick poor decision does not seam like a reason that he should be demoted from his rights as a citizen.

    As dennisball noted, this seems like a very sensationalized piece. There is difference between a rapist and someone convicted of vehicular manslaughter and between a drug lord and a kid who deals in the inner city because he has nothing else. To say that someone who commits a crime and properly rehabilitates has absolutely no right to be a citizen seem a very harsh statement.

  7. kaschuma says:

    I agree with davehopkins2 that the main goal of the prison system is not to further degrade criminals. The extremely high repeat-offender rate is further evidence that downgrading felons just makes them commit more crime and be a further strain on society. From a self-centered point of view, the only way to remove the strain of criminals from my society and my taxes is either execution or complete rehabilitation. I doubt we will be executing embezzlers soon so it seems we need rehabilitation.

    I’m reminded of the prison approach taken in Norway. This article explains it if you’re not familiar: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1384308/Norways-controversial-cushy-prison-experiment–catch-UK.html

    Felons here are treated with respect, educated, and are trained in a job. The result is a repeat-offender rate of only 16% and a lower per-bed cost than traditional prisons.

    By treating felons well, and welcoming them back to society, there won’t be as much crime, and I won’t have to keep paying for their prison stays.

  8. aazilli7 says:

    I have to echo the view of all the other responders here. It believe it is true that those who violate the rights over others then forfeit a certain number of their rights, but I do think that some rights are inalienable. In fact I think that everybody is familiar with that idea, since it is one of the most basic themes of our government. It seems, thought, that the discrepancy here is: Which rights should truly be inalienable? I think that the right to vote should be inalienable, but I do not think that is as an important of a right in this case, if only because I know most felons are not likely to vote.

    I do, however, think that the right to the opportunity for work is crucial. This right is core to being considered a human being. It is one of the most universal traits of all people; they work. Work is a means to living. By cutting away the right to work, you are, in some sense, cutting away one’s ability to live, and not just to live at a nice standard, but to survive. And through being a felon, one already diminishes many of his or her opportunities of work, so to get rid of the right is almost superfluous. The other points brought up here are extremely important, too, i.e. criminals should be offered a chance of redemption. It is not all about punishment. At a certain point, when the punishments become too extreme, they just foster a lifestyle for ex-prisoners that is conducive to criminal activity.

    Criminals forfeit much of their rights when they harm others, but they do not forfeit their rights to basically exist as a person.

  9. emmasag says:

    American citizenship depends upon a “comprehensive commitment to providing opportunities for work to earn a living wage for all who need and demand it” (107). This apparent conclusion regarding the opportunity to earn, reflects one of Shklar’s central arguments that contests the claim that criminals should not be considered citizens.
    Criminals are often times disenfranchised (technically) and have limited job potential, truly becoming second class citizens. Nonetheless, this demonstrates the fact that our society continues to struggle with the idea of a true representative democracy to this day. Shklar attempts to point out two key elements of American Citizenship (possesion of the right to vote being the first) and then discuss the barriers to citizenship that greatly contradict these standards. Basically, kmuth0307, the idea that felons should be denied essential rights, demonstrates how these barriers are still intact.
    Brian Schodorf’s film, “Poverty Swells Streets of the Chicago” seems to argue that felons are unfairly being denied the right to vote. This may be controversial, but it must be said that America undoubtedly should strive to create a society free of poverty (realistic or not). Thus, to condemn felons who have already served their time in jail would ordinarily be a great injustice. Schodorf’s piece effectively highlights the extent to which this injustice prevails in America, among other things, which interestingly enough, Shklar attempts to highlight as well.
    http://www.glogster.com/media/4/32/49/56/32495622.jpg

  10. dfox13 says:

    I agree with many of the previous commenters, but I most strongly agree with commenter Kaschuma and their rehabilitation focused views. If people who commit felonies are going to be punished and put in a prison, what good does it do society or the felon if the felon is just locked up without making use of the time? If the felon isn’t learning about their mistakes and learning about ways to better their situation when they get out, then society will suffer possibly when the felon is released. Also, the released felon would be put in a bad situation in many cases, when a rehabilitation system would make a big difference for their future re-integration into society.

    Sure, having exclusivity with full citizenship rights is important, but not to the extent where people canlose such rights after making a mistake or being in a bad situation that could be cured by a rehabilitation process.

    Forfeiting some rights when committing a crime is expected, but if it isn’t temporary, then what hope will that former felon have for their days after they’re freed? The absence of a chance at redemption would be awful.

  11. brianoconnor16 says:

    I could not agree more with you on the your argument made in support of giving homeless people with physical handicaps more support from the federal government with assistance in finding jobs and basic necessities such as housing. Additionally, you do mention the importance for creating a welfare system that aids single mothers struggling to find work, while also promoting a system that discourages reliance on welfare and provides a stimulus for people to be motivated to work. However, your argument about felons is wrong and unfair in my opinion.

    Felons go to prison as a form of punishment for what was done in society. Programs within prisons provide felons with an excellent opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and change for the better. Those in jail can educate themselves while serving time and change the way they will act in society in the future. The main issue I have with your argument is that you seem to believe that all people who have made a mistake and land in jail should be prevented from voting and having the ability to work in the future. People make mistakes in life and learn from these mistakes in order to become better people in the future. Saying that these people do not deserve the right to vote in all circumstances take away their opportunity for a second chance. I think it is fair to say that everyone has made a regrettable mistake in their life. I’m not saying that second chances are deserved in all circumstances, but I am saying that it is unfair to take away these second chance opportunities for each and every felon no matter what the circumstances are.

    Additionally, what are we saying about our penal system if we are never going to give violators of the law a second chance? Maybe our disagreement lies in the belief of the possibility of rehabilitation within our penal system. I do believe that good people can go to jail, and in certain instances can change while within prison for the betterment of both themselves, and all of society. To say that felons should not be valued is to give up on a population of people. Many of these people have gone on to do positive things with their lives following their imprisonment. Do people like Martin Luther King Jr. deserve to not have the opportunity to vote for the rest of their lives simply because they broke laws? I believe that this would be an unreasonable reaction that does not fully recognize the power of those who have made mistakes to change for the better in the future.

    Also, here are some links I found to more information about prison rehabilitation programs:
    http://www.rehabilitationtoday.com/news/16-prisoner-rehabilitation–giving-a-new-life-to-prisoners.html
    http://www.rehabilitations.org/prisoner-rehabilitation.html
    http://www.worldandihomeschool.com/public/2003/december/cipub1.asp

  12. beneikey says:

    I don’t get as riled up about felons being able to vote or hold a decent job as I do compared to felons running for public office. I’m from Flint, and we had a convicted felon as the major for five years. When the leadership is so corrupted, it’s little wonder that the city can’t seem to get out of this endless economic recession.

  13. krisskrosswillmakeyou says:

    I agree with most of the comments above but would just like to place my own thoughts on how the federal prison system works in my eyes. There are certainly many problems with the prison system, in that clearly a line must be placed between where a person deserves to have his rights taken away versus a small crime where the right to vote should be saved. For example a large percentage of the United States prison population is there for non-violent crimes such as 20% for drug related offenses.
    However, the biggest problem facing the current prison system is that felons who are released, are incredibly likely to end up in jail again. A 2002 survey found that of the prisoners released in 1994, 67 percent were arrested again in 3 years and 50 percent of them returned to prison. For me, this is the strongest evidence that felons shouldn’t be given the right to vote because if half are put in jail again and 2/3 arrested before 4 years are up, what would be the point of their vote? They would essentially be voting and then never partaking in any democratic action. Simultaneously, this speaks to the poor quality of the prison system. If 50 percent of released prisoners are put back in prison, i think its fair to say that there is not much reformation in the prison system. Some may argue that the private profitability of prisons leads to these statistics because it is more profitable for many companies to keep high prison levels. Without fair reformation in prison, released prisoners are not put in the right position to be good citizens in the first place.

  14. brbarlog says:

    I think the original post points out a key problem regarding felons and the extent to which these individuals should, or even have the legal standing, to participate in voting and/or the political process. I tend to respectfully disagree with the original post’s views. I think the post makes two gross characterizations: all felons should not participate in the political process and the meaning and intent of prison itself. It should be noted, first, that all felonies under the law are not created equal. Murder varies from assault which varies in degree battery which varies in degree of falsifying a police report. Indeed, this seems obvious; however, it may be apparent that one who commits murder does not have the same capacity as some, for instance, who perjures himself in the court of law, to save a family member. I think, sometimes, the public assumes that every convicted individual is guilty. Institutional flaws, plea deals, and over- zealous prosecutions.
    Second, I think one must also comprehend the intent of prisons. There one one person who commented earlier that I thought was a great comment: The point of prison is to act both as a punishment and rehabilitation for the criminal. This could not be more true. With reality shows and the lack of funding for prisons, they seem now to be merely “holding cells” and do not stress rehabilitation. This definitely needs to be addressed. Yet, I do feel that some individuals, when they come out of prison, should have the right to vote and should have their opinions heard, despite their backgrounds. We should not be quick to judge and create a blanket over every circumstance.

  15. goblue9123 says:

    As many others have agreed, I also found the original posters’ ideas to be considerably radical. However, that having been said, more importantly, they do raise a very important issue within our nation today: the extent of citizenship that might be allowed to felons (or even criminals on all levels). For that matter, I think it also brings into question whether or not citizenship and non-citizenship in the U.S. is strictly binary, or if there is not some middle ground. In other words, is there such thing as “limited citizenship,” or is an individual automatically without citizenship if they are not afforded exactly every liberty that is granted by citizenship? I think how one chooses to answer this latter question directly speaks to how their opinion would be formed on the issue of citizenship and felons.

    First off, like the original poster, I too undoubtedly share in this like-frustration when considering what, at times, seems to be too great a leniency within our justice system. I also cannot help to argue within this same objective when I consider the fact that individuals that commit crimes are making a choice to do so. They are deciding to violate the law–an action they know has the consequence of limiting their own rights. Thus, arguably, they are willingly abdicating their rights to citizenship. Unlike those individual (like women, African Americans, the impoverished) who have been before excluded from citizenship on the basis of factors they cannot manipulate or control, criminals are directly facilitating their own ineligibility. More than that, a crime is an action that violates the conditions of proper behavior as an American citizen. It is also generally an action that involves one person (the criminal) impeding on the liberties of another. I find it hard to agree that any individual should be considered to be within our “club” as an American citizen if they cannot respect fellow members (other American citizens) or abide by the standards of American society (the laws).

    However, that having been said, I think the bigger point is that, regardless of our opinions on how our legal system might need to be changed (the original author brought up the issue adequate sentence time), those are just our personal opinions. As this post proves, they vary across many individuals. The sentencing guidelines for each crime are set by our institution of government–they represent what we can hopefully consider a generally representative consensus of fair retribution for a violation of American laws. When an individual commits a crime, their prison sentence (or other allotted punishment) is period of time for which they are denied their rights to citizenship. For whatever the extent of the criminal action, an individual’s rights to citizenship are withheld for a specific period of time–whatever the law deems adequate. Once an individual’s time has been served, regardless of our personal frustrations or opinions, the law says they are entitled to be citizens (a full member of American society) once again.

    In one way or another, by this point in our lives, most of us have probably broken a law–often willingly. If you have every sped in your car because you were late to work, had an alcoholic beverage at a college party before you turned 21 or thrown your food wrapper on the ground, you have chosen to violate American law. Now, these actions are all obviously incomparable to other violent, felonious crimes, however, mention of them speaks to the idea that we cannot broadly assert that violating the law justifies a revocation of one’s citizenship or their ability to be viewed as citizens. We might not like it, but I believe that a person’s prison sentence, is the time in which they are subject to the denial of citizenship rights. Ultimately, if we continue to impede on these individuals’ rights to be full citizens once they leave the prison system, we force them to live a substandard lifestyle. Absent of the opportunities and rights afforded to citizens, survival by unconventional means (like crime) is often the only remaining choice–the life of non-citizenship becomes inescapable.

    Lauren Gilezan

  16. Jonathan Needle says:

    Though it is justified to exclude an exconvict from the opportunity to perform some jobs, the overall perpsective of prohibiting them from employement as a general rule of thumb contradicts the whole purpose of the rehabilitative process. Though prison is often no more than a holding pen for crimnals, there are occassions when criminals genuinely regret their prior actions and their incarceration. In those cases, these individual do want to start fresh and make changes in their life. Putting them in the homeless basket by refusing them work opportunities where they have to resort to a mission enviroment (for food and shelter) will deprive them of any hope and chance to start anew. It may also have the psychological effect of reinforcing their worst views of the surrounding culture and possibly intensify their pre-existing antisocial ways. Every criminal that is let of jail is in some manner expected to reform thmesleves. Denying them that opportunity totally negates the notion that incarceration can ever be rehabilitative.

  17. mrs010 says:

    Throughout reading this blog post, and proceeding to read the comments, I want to make an argument about the “rehabilitation” of the American criminal. First of all, though I am not going to look up a fancy statistic to support my argument, there is undoubtedly a high probability that a criminal in the US goes back to jail at least one more time upon release. And yes, this is playing into a lot of the comments on rehabilitation’s point in terms of re-integration, but let’s not get the bloggers point confused. The criminal, who in the case of whoever wrote this post, has committed serious offense. I am going to make the case that the intention of the prison system should not intend to rehabilitate someone, but make they’re life a living hell, teaching them why they shouldn’t have committed such a terrible crime in the first place. I’m not advocating for torture or anything of the sort, but do not give them any sort of luxury. While in prison, criminals should be treated as the second class citizens they acted like when they gave up their right to a free and prosperous life. Why do they deserve to be rehabilitated, rather than flat-out punishment? I’m not sure that would be sending the right message to them if they raped, murdered, pushed drugs, or committed any other severe crime. The fact that such people aren’t sentenced more harshly is bothersome in itself. Saying the prison should punish is perfectly logical. To say that they should mold criminals into better human beings for the sake of their future in America, is beyond what I see as anyone’s job. No one should have to reiterate to another human being that murder or stealing is bad.

  18. hadasbrown says:

    To the author of this blog post – I’m sorry, but as others have, I’m going to have to wholeheartedly disagree with you on this one. While there are obviously individuals existing within our society that commit heinous crimes worthy of full-on alienation, you are failing to see beyond the stereotypical depiction of a felon. Yes, some people go to jail because they murdered, raped, etc. However, there are a ton of other nonviolent charges that amount to a felony that you must be unaware of. For instance, posession and/or sale of most recognizable drugs can land you right in jail. I would not imagine you can claim that you have never known a SINGLE person in your entire life who, at least on one occasion, sold drugs. There are other examples of non-violent crimes as well, which I would think that most people would not think should strip the criminal of his right to citizenship. Additionally, you fail to account for the wrongfully accused. While our justice system can be overly lenient in some cases, it is overzealous in others. There are numerous cases of wrongfully accused individuals who have lost their right to vote for crimes they did not commit. Finally, a sizeable group of felons from underprivileged areas, particularly those that do not have adequate schooling systems – one of the most constant sites of rampant crime – are teenagers. These teens are faced with the choice of going to jail OR accepting a package that includes being disenfranchised. Most of these individuals are sadly unaware of the strength of political efficacy and cannot see past the fear of going to prison, so they accept the latter. While I am not trying to argue that their crimes should be overlooked, these criminals are scarcely given a chance to learn what their citizenship even IS, let alone the capacity to decide if they would prefer to relinquish it, as you claim all individuals do when they choose to commit crimes.

    To conclude, my feeling is that this perspective on felons is extremely limited. You cannot group all criminals behind one general image and argue that each individual case merits the same level of punishment and alienation.

  19. a15haddad says:

    I agree 100% with the first commenter, zacha90, and most of the commenters after him. Convicts who have served their sentence should not be punished after their sentence is over. This defeats the whole purpose of finishing a prison sentence. The original poster, kmuth307, uses the example of an adult being convicted of having sex with a child under 13. This is a very extreme example of a felony. Felonies can also given for things like possession with the intent to distribute drugs and for malicious destruction of property. For example, I know of a case where an acquaintance of mine was charged with a felony for denting a sign that was hanging on the wall of an Ann Arbor restaurant. He was acquitted, but the possibility that he could be denied citizenship for the rest of his life for being convicted of denting a sign on the wall of a restaurant when he was a teenager is insane. In addition, while attending the University of Michigan I am sure we are all aware of people who have sold drugs. Especially in a time when much of the public questions the wisdom of making certain drugs illegal, should these people really be denied the right to vote for their entire life? People make mistakes. Unless it’s something particularly heinous like murder or rape they shouldn’t be penalized their whole life for them.

    I don’t want to sound as if I’m defending felons in general. Most of them are guilty of committing serious crimes and should be treated as such. However, you can’t apply the same discriminatory policies toward them all. Felons are already marginalized in society. It’s very hard for them to get a job, good housing, or normal social lives; the stain of their mistake follows them forever. To make them aliens in their own nation is cruel and unusual punishment and not what America stands for.

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