Washington Post Sees Racial Impact in Laws Barring Felon Voters

The Washington Post editorializes against the increasing trend toward disenfranchisement of felons. It says, “In an election year when many states have added dubious voter ID requirements sure to affect minority voters disproportionately, another set of impediments to the franchise worsens the problem: laws in 11 states, including Virginia, that disenfranchise felons. Given that African Americans constitute 38.2 percent of the prison population but just 12.6 percent of the general population, a disproportionate share of these disenfranchised people are black.”

The paper cites a Sentencing Project study concluding that about 7.7 percent of the African American voting-age population is disenfranchised, compared with 1.8 percent of the non-African American population. The Post says, “In Virginia, Kentucky and Florida, felon disenfranchisement affects a staggering one in five African Americans. There's no excuse for that. The underlying question is why these states disenfranchise felons who've served their sentences, paid their dues and rejoined their communities..If a purpose of punishment is to rehabilitate persons to become functioning members of society upon their release, why would you deprive those who succeed of a fundamental right of citizenship?”

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