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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77614 Find in a Library
Title: Right To Vote as Applied to Ex-felons
Journal: Federal Probation  Volume:45  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1981)  Pages:12-15
Author(s): J R Vile
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A historical review of judicial decisions favoring the disenfranchisement of ex-felons illustrates the faulty reasoning behind such decisions.
Abstract: The practice of disenfranchising felons was established by Greek precedent, furthered by the Roman concepts of 'infamia' and 'civil death' and continued by the German practice of 'outlawry' and the English tradition of 'attainder.' The United States disenfranchised convicted felons as early as 1776 and by 1869, 29 states had such provisions. However, blanket disenfranchisement of ex-felons is difficult to justify. While the U.S. Supreme Court has rules that States have the constitutional right of exclusion, the exercise of this right appears to be unwise and counterproductive. While the exclusion of ex-felons from the voting booths appears to rest on a perceived connection between rights and duties, the connection is too tangential to be of any practical value. A thorough investigation of this connection reveals that it is best as a rationale for withholding the franchise from felons serving their sentences or from those who, because of past electoral offenses, may be presumed to be subject to future electoral temptations. For the most part, however, withholding the rights of citizenship from ex-felons demeans them while further eroding their perceptions of public duty and participation in normative society. Footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Ex-offenders rights; Judicial decisions; Restoration of rights; State laws; US Supreme Court
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