Felony Disenfranchisement News
December 11, 2013 (The Huffington Post)
Our Nation has a Secret: Felony Disenfranchisement in America
Laws preventing returning prisoners from voting originated prior to the Reconstruction era in an attempt to stem the growth of the black voting bloc and black electorate. Today, the effects are the same. The latest data reveals that nearly six million people cannot vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws practiced in across 48 states and the District of Columbia. More than two million of those disenfranchised are black.
Florida, Kentucky, and Iowa practice permanent disenfranchisement, erecting impenetrable barriers for people who are no longer incarcerated. Virginia made some strides after an executive order this summer granted automatic restoration of rights to people with non-violent felony convictions; however, that order's future will rely on the Governor-elect's agenda beginning in 2014. Kentucky and Iowa are slowly embracing change, but until those laws are amended in their state Constitutions, like this year's history-making legislation in Delaware, each state is still behind the curve.
December 5, 2013 (The Daily Free Press)
Zero-tolerance means zero productivity
An editorial states: “People send their children to schools to learn, not to be subject to rough societal punishments. When a person trusts a school with the well being of his or her child, it is understood that educators and administrators in middle and high schools will act in the best interest of the student. Zero-tolerance policies are counterintuitive to the development of a functioning member of society, and they should be eradicated before more young people are prematurely introduced to the incarceration system.
“Any zero-tolerance policy against non-violent crime breeds criminals. When a student is in possession of an illegal substance or spray paints a wall on a campus, administrators should take the responsibility to discipline. Guidance counselors and school security should be held more accountable for discovering and assessing a child’s actions and administering constructive discipline rather than punishing the student to the fullest extent.
“Disruptive students should not be contained to jail cells, juvenile detention or simple detention in a cafeteria. If a social problem warrants possible incarceration, parents and school officials should be more than capable of avoiding such harsh consequences. How is society going to advance if young people are left to fend for their rights in a courtroom?
December 3, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
National: Have Felony Disenfranchisement and Prison Gerrymandering Diluted Our Democracy?
Support for Disenfranchisement Reform Growing
"A Blatant Stain on America's Hard-Won Universal Suffrage"
Two New Books on Felony Disenfranchisement
Virginia: 6,874 Virginians Reenfranchised Under Gov. McDonnell
How the Next Governor Will Impact Reform Efforts
Kentucky: Opposition to Voting Rights Restoration Bill in State Senate
December 3, 2013 (Womensenews.org)
Faith-Based Housing Helps Women Leave Prison
Missy Denard prayed for six years before she rented the first home for New Beginnings in Abilene, Texas, for women who have nowhere to go.
That was in 2011. Since then the two-bedroom house with an attached apartment has been housing up to six women and Denard has acquired another house and an apartment building to rent to approximately 65 more women, all with children.
The female population in prisons in the United States continues to grow at an alarming rate. From 2000 through 2009, the number of women incarcerated in state or federal prisons rose by 21.6 percent, compared to a 15.6 percent increase for men. A total of 205,000 women were in U.S. prisons or jail in 2010, with the families and communities being torn apart as a result, according to a report released earlier this year by The Sentencing Project.
As the need grows, some members of religious communities are creating new ways to respond to women leaving prison, including teaching them that Christ loves and forgives them.
December 2, 2013 (C-Span)
Reforming Prison Sentencing
Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, talked about the changing political climate for criminal justice reform on C-Span and why he believes the expanding growth and cost of the U.S. prison system has contributed to an increased desire for reform. He also spoke about the findings of his organization on the rapid growth of life sentencing and the impact of the federal drug ban on welfare families. Watch here.