It’s a myth that disenfranchised felons would not vote if they were given the chance, contends author Sasha Abramsky. In an interview with the Social Edge, Abramsky says there is a “huge number” who are “desperately keen to vote. Some of these people were political going into prison, and have always understood the political system and participated. They just want to get back to what they were doing before they were incarcerated.” Abramsky is the author of the new book, “Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House,” published by the New Press.
Some convicts had been apolitical, and prison politicized them, Abramsky says. They don’t want to “organize around the issues of crime and criminality” but rather about poverty and economic issues, he says. “They wanted to participate in decisions affecting taxes and how their children were educated.” There is no single characterization of “ex-prisoner” or “ex-felon,” Abramsky says: “It’s good shorthand. But it’s not good shorthand for an understanding of how people would vote (if they could vote) or which kind of political issues concern them.”