Fact Sheets
Featured Video
  • National Press Club Forum: A 25-Year Vision for Criminal Justice Reform
  • Unlocking Justice: Alternatives to Prison
State Contacts
October 25, 2012 (Salon)

America’s most disenfranchised population?

This November, nearly 6 million Americans will be kept from the polls, disenfranchised under a number of ever more aggressive state laws barring felons and ex-felons from the voting booth. This is detrimental to our justice system and a vicious threat to our democracy.

A report from The Sentencing Project, State-Level Estimates of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 2010, estimates that these laws currently disenfranchise 5.85 million Americans. The majority of them, 75 percent are no longer inmates in prison or jail. Instead, they are serving parole, probation, or, in the case of 2.63 million individuals (nearly half of the entire population measured), are living in their communities freely, having already completed their sentences in full.

Voting is essential to a valid democracy. It is both a right and a duty—not a privilege. It is fundamental to the rigorous and diverse discussion required by our society. Yet this November, nearly 6 million citizens will be barred from the voting booth, silenced and ostracized. This number begs the question: how can this be right?

Issue Area(s): Sentencing Policy, Incarceration, Racial Disparity, Felony Disenfranchisement, Collateral Consequences