Felons lose voting rights

RICHMOND (AP) - Nearly a quarter of a million Virginians, most of them black men, cannot vote because they are convicted felons, says a report published yesterday.

Virginia is one of 13 states that permanently take away the voting rights of felons. Other states either restore voting after the sentence is served or do not bar felons from voting.

According to State Police records cited by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia has 241,420 convicted felons. As many as 144,900 of them are black men, an estimate based on the state prison system's current population of 60 percent black males, the newspaper said.

In comparison, approximately 210,000 black men are registered to vote in the state, said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political analyst.

A relative handful of felons, about 75, have their voting rights restored each year. But they go through a lengthy and complex process that requires the approval of the governor.

Sabato called the number of disenfranchised people ``stunning.''

``It's a basic question of fairness,'' he said. ``It seems to me that once the time is served, then the person re-enters society'' and should be allowed to vote.

But the state constitution says no one who has been convicted of a felony ``shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the governor or other appropriate authority.''

Historians and legal scholars have said the original intent of the ban was to disenfranchise blacks and poor whites. But while other voting limits such as poll taxes have long since vanished, the convicted felons ban remains.

``The genesis ... of these statutes shows that both their purpose and their effect has been to create a permanent subclass of disenfranchised citizens who are mostly black and who are mostly poor,'' said Margaret Winter of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project.

Jerry W. Kilgore, Virginia's secretary of public safety, defended the restriction.

``That is an appropriate response that the state has taken over the course of many, many years,'' he said. ``This constitutional provision is race-neutral. It has nothing to do with whether the felon is black or white, or rich or poor. It merely says that if you commit a felony, you're not going to have the right to vote.''

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Nomad's comments:

Things rarely change for the better without voting / conflict. A convict named Jesus was given the death penalty by the respectable people of the Roman empire. Now many people claim to follow his teachings. A  few terrorists waged war on the respectable people of the British empire by saying "give me LIBERTY or give me death". Now they are called the founding fathers of the United States. Which convicts of today will challenge the "respectable" people / Federal government and lay the  foundation of tomorrow?

Slavery is alive and well in CELL BLOCK U.S.A. , which imprisons the highest percentage of citizens compared to any other country. The same government that will not hire felons, will readily force felons to work for a fraction of the cost it would have to pay a regular person ; making prisons a highly profitable business. Counties are also rewarded with over $20,000 a year for each live stock. Therefore it makes good business sense to have as many prisoners as possible by making everyone a felon with stupid laws.
Sometimes I hear the Pigs proudly say that rape is common in prison. So they are not interested
in confinement or rehabilitation. They prefer to see cruel punishment.

Therefore, that will be the rope that hangs the Pigs.
 All prisoners must;
      -Renounce the religion of our captors.
      -We will do everything in our power to make prisons very expensive to run.
      -We will not cooperate with our captors.
      -We will meditate in solitude for the destruction of our captors' world .
      -The hate for our captors will be the powerful engine that drives years of  meditation.
       The power of concentrated thought over the years is more powerful than
       any weapon  man has ever possessed. Prisoners must be willing to die, rather than
       to accept the Pigs.
      -Even after our death we will do everything in our power to torment our captors.