Politics & Public Policy: Felon Disenfranchisement Laws (Fall 2005)

DESCRIPTION: Electoral laws, inextricably linked to the criminal justice system in 48 of the 50 states, perform a remarkably similar function and the laws governing the right to vote in the United States are as ironic as they are exemplary: In many states, individuals deemed eligible to be released from prison and rejoin society are at the same time not considered qualified or competent to cast a ballot in federal and state elections. Pardon and parole boards, sentencing courts, secretaries and departments of corrections carefully deliberate before judging a convicted felon rehabilitated and suitable to re-enter society. While a convicted felon may meet the requirements to be released from prison and resume living unconfined, these same individuals are not considered fit to vote by election boards, state legislatures and the U.S. Supreme Court. With the above in mind, this course is intended to consider the role of politics and policy in the development, formation and continuation of felon disenfranchisement laws.

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Center for Contemporary Black History | Columbia University