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Robert Winner

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Should felons be allowed to vote.

The question of felons rights has came up again in this election. In the past frelons when convicted lost all lands and good because of the seriousness of the offence. Felonies are the highest (worst) crimes that can be commited. Felons as judged by their peers are sent to prison for the protection of the general public. They have demonstrated a contempt for the law, the cultural norms, and the rights of others.

Is this fair? Should felons be allowed to vote?

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    Sep 14 2012: Yes.

    Democratic rights should not be lost because of criminal convictions.

    You should only lose your right to vote when you die.

    Democratic rights are one step under the right to life in my view.

    Criminals may forgo their freedom of movement and be imprisioned, but the right to life and to vote should not be lost.

    I think the US should stop killing prisoners as a first priority. Barbaric, medieval, and backward. How could the country with the most enlightened constitution of its time still be killing criminals?

    Christianity is perhaps to blame for an eye for an eye. So backward. How the US pretends to claim the high ground on morality baffles me. It is how a nation treats it least privileged and criminals that defines its level of morality.

    Second priority is not to disenfranchise felons.

    I would argue on the basis of the right superseding punishment.

    I would also argue on utilitarian basis that disenfranchising people, making them non citizens is not useful and is probably counter productive.
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      Sep 14 2012: People in Chicago still vote even when dead. It happens almost every year.

      Wow you must reall hate the Muslim religion with all that beheading and hand cutting off and shooting the females and stoning etc ... Violate the Koran and bang your dead.

      Perhaps the barbaric US should forego the trial and go straight to the civilized beheading.

      Oh yeah we were talking about voting. I take it your for it.
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        Sep 14 2012: Do the dead vote mostly democratic or republican?

        I do find the beheading, hand cutting, treating women as chattel, adulterer stoning, homosexual killing inspired by Islam etc atrocious.

        (Some places are really stuck in the middle ages. Kind of feel sorry for them.)

        That does not excuse the US, the richest nation in the world for capital punishment. If comparing the US to backward muslim countries makes you feel better you may be missing the point.The fact that there are a lot of worse off places doesn't stop the US being an anolomy compared to most other Western countries in regards to the death penalty. Why do you think that is. I would not be surprised if the most evangelical US states are the ones with the death penalty and corporal punishment etc don't spare the rod etc.

        If you think capital punishment is a good thing, that is your call too. I disagree with State murder.

        I guess the people being executed are the same backgrounds as those being denied the vote. Next they will demand government ID like drivers licenses to vote. Disenfranchising the poor who don't have cars.

        Yes I went off on a tangent. Sorry for that. And yes I don't see a rationale for disenfranchising those convicted of crimes.
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          Sep 14 2012: Chicago is very union, very democratic, and very currupt. Even the dead would not think of voting republican out of fear.

          Is the US the riches nation in the world ... I thought we lost that. If Obama gets back in he will change that. He has spent more in the last three years than the last eight presidents did in all of their terms in office.

          What would be the problem with a state ID for voting? I have to show an ID (or some type of identification) for almost everything I do. Owning a car has nothing to do with having an ID. The poor are bused to the voting site. The ID just ensures that the voter is qualified and legal to vote. Would you like for all the boat people and tourists to vote in Australian elections or to have NZ citizen to be boated, flown, etc ... to sway the Austrailian vote. The only two things that have to occur is that you are on the voter roster and have a valid state issued ID. Is that to much?

          Did you stay awake for the whole democratic convention? You must be tired.
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    Sep 13 2012: Yes indeed Felons should not only be allowed to vote but run for office etc. In fact a well known felon was the Mayor of Washington DC. Marion Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine and arrested by FBI officials on drug charges. After his release from prison, he ran for and was elected D.C. city council in 1992 and ultimately returned to the mayoralty in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999.

    The Constitution requires that members of the House and Senate fulfill three requirements:

    1. All members of the House must be at least 25 years old, and members of the Senate must be at least 30 years old.
    2. Members of the House must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and members of the Senate must have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years.
    3. They have to be an "inhabitant" of the state "when elected."

    Being a convicted Felon does not prevent anybody from running for any office.

    In 1798, Rep. Matthew Lyon ran for Congress from prison and won.

    As of 2011, only two states, Kentucky and Virginia, continue to impose a lifelong denial of the right to vote to all citizens with a felony record But do have a rights restoration process.

    Only two states, Maine and Vermont, allow incarcerated felons to vote.

    Felon's show no more contempt for the law than someone double parking, which is against the law in most states. To say that a citizen who violates the law is showing contempt for our country is to put every citizen at fault.

    Arson is a felony even if there are no victims. Burning your own vehicle on your property is considered arson.

    There are many felonies you can commit that have nothing to do with hurting people or destroying their property.

    Smoking marijuana in a public or private park, can be deemed a felony at a judge's discretion.

    Depriving someone of their civil right to vote, even a felon, is a violation of Federal law, a felony violation.
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    Sep 13 2012: Hi Helen,
    Einstein said, We cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. What climate creates the context that crime might pay? Declining job opportunities, losing one's home, not adequate integration of fighting and dying for ones country for trumped up causes while the county club culture is alive and well, a culture that rewards the parasites and punishes the working class, a culture that sees nothing wrong with trashing the environment for a quick short term profit? How many disconnects must be invisible before understanding, we have met the enemy and they is US. It's all connected when we see holistically. Real solutions can only grow out of that wholeness. There is a very good reason for the high recidivism rate, if one cares to look....So I believe...
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    Sep 12 2012: Ooops, Robert, you misspoke. Voting IS a right. It is not an inalienable right and can be suspended for a serious criminal violation which is a payable debt to society. So long as the debt is unpaid the right to vote should be suspended. Once the debt is paid the right to vote should be restored.
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      Sep 12 2012: As usual Ed you are right on. My error. Corrected. Thanks. Bob.
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      Sep 12 2012: At one time in this country it was not a right. You had to " have skin in the game" this was to eliminate the tyranny of democracy.

      If it were up to me, the skin in the game would be knowledge, in other words you would have to demonstrate a knowledge of not only the system but also economics.

      Of course that would practically eliminate the democrats.
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        Sep 13 2012: It might eliminate you and me Pat :) I never said I was the smartest. I just said I was the prettiest.
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    Sep 12 2012: A felon is assigned the position of liability to society. With a few exceptions (charles manson) should be allowed to make restitution to society, if they have done so I say let them vote as they are no longer a liability to society
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      Sep 13 2012: What's to stop the felons from holding your mother hostage while you vote the way they want you too?

      There are many ways to increase the power of your one vote or lack of vote. It has occurred where drug lords have influence the entire community to vote for their ideas, against the good guys and win.
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    Sep 12 2012: To vote is a right, and felons are denied that right just like they are denied their right to freedom while in jail.

    I think felons should absolutely be allowed to vote. To continue to deny them of their rights is to tell them that we don't believe that they can be rehabilitated.
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    Sep 14 2012: If felons are in office, why can't they vote?
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    Sep 13 2012: ....ah ...ah ...do you still believe in "democracy".
  • Sep 13 2012: Robert your statement "As in drugs, when the rewards are greater that the consequences then they consider it worthwile to commit the crime." what about committing check fraud or a burglary in order to attain money to purchase drugs? Does an addict really think that far ahead? Does there nervous system allow for this to be the case? Once an individual is an addict the person needs this drug to live and will most likely committing a crime in order to do so.

    i agree that in cases like rape, severe assaults, and murder the individual involved should not have there right to vote re instated. My quarrel is with drug felonies, one does not have to sell drugs, just possess them to be charged with a felony. How does this merit somebody having their right to vote stripped for life? The American prison system is absolutely overloaded with drug criminals and as you have worked in the system you know this to be true. By not allowing those who change their lives to vote what message are you sending them?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2tOp7OxyQ8
  • Sep 14 2012: Shouldn't it be against the law to lie and then commit murder, to the tune of 10's or 100's of thousands of innocent victims? Such as George Bush and Iraq.

    He not only got to vote, he is still walking free. If you want to take away a felon's vote, then at least let them remain free.

    Mr. Obey No1kinobe
    You say, "How the US pretends to claim the high ground on morality baffles me."
    Really? I cannot believe you actually believe what they say. It sounds to me as though you tell yourself, "yes, I will continue to let them fool me, thus, remaining baffled."

    As though you don't want the truth.
    Please don't take this as an attack toward you but only as a comment on the idea I quoted you on. I have heard similar things said by U.S. citizens for so long now, that I find it a joke that they believe what these lying, thieving, racist, evil humans say every time they open their mouths.

    Why stay baffled? Why not admit the truth to yourself and then act based upon that?

    That's exactly what the masses are afraid to do. Act on the truth and let that guide and direct them.
    If not, then people not only don't trust the truth, they don't want the truth.

    That's sad and too bad.
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    Sep 14 2012: How does letting convicted felons vote hurt anybody?

    Does being convicted of a serious crime mean you never have the same rights as before, even after doing your time in prison.

    And what % of those convicted were actually innocent. Is the court system perfect?
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    Sep 13 2012: Yes Robert. There are some people who need to be locked up (permanently) and not all of them are in jail or prison.
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      Sep 13 2012: I can think of some high profiles to start with. Bob.
  • Sep 13 2012: What difference does it make? What percent of the population are felons? So, if all the felons voted exactly for the same president or party, would it really affect the outcome?

    I don't have a criminal record of any sort. I don't vote.
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      Sep 13 2012: I think the channel we have locked in on is crime and punishment. Is the removal of the vote as part of the punishment justified.
      • Sep 13 2012: That's just my point. The effect of punishment is fantasy. It is quite like putting a hex on a robber. Some believer (in votes or in curses) is going to be very unhappy about it. But it is only "punishment" because the punished believe it to be so.
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      Sep 14 2012: Lets not let gays vote. Or people over 90. Not many of them.

      Suggest Either you think a basic right or entitlement like voting is universal or you don't.

      It's not the % that is the issue.
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    Sep 13 2012: every journey starts with a step

    today, felons. tomorrow, unemployed. then what?
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      Sep 13 2012: You have hit on one of the big challenges Krisztián. Many felons cannot get jobs because of their criminal history, and/or because of the fact that many of them do not have employable skills. That is why I would like to see prisons/correctional facilities be self sustaining villages, where those incarcerated can learn skills, which may help them be more employable.

      Today felons....tomorrow, unemployed....then what? Back to crime again because it is the only way they know to support themselves and their habits. Approximately 95% of those incarcerated are drug and/or alcohal dependant. They continue to repeat the same patterns and the same cycles. As a society, we need somehow to break those cycles.

      Another cycle is that many of those incarcerated have been abused as children....many sexually abused by family members.....another cycle. When I volunteered in the women/children's shelter, family center, and dept. of corrections, we were seeing the same families, for generations, falling through the cracks of the agencies that are supposed to be helping them. They need to learn to help themselves, and that of course is another part of the challenge.

      I agree with you...every journey starts with a single step.
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        Sep 13 2012: Many of these people are generational welfare families and are / have been wards of the state for years. To become employed would be a reduction in lifestyle.

        Many of the inmates have jobs in the prison as electrician, carpenters, facility maintenance, and other skills. They use those skills on the outside to supplement their state welfare as they work for cash so it is not reported.

        They know the system much better than we do and take every advantage.

        Bob.
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          Sep 14 2012: I had a brother like that. He was very good at manipulating welfare and churches. They never washed cloths, just got some more from the Salvation army and dumped the dirty ones back in the receiver box.

          They moved all the way across the US to Washington state because the benefits were better.
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          Sep 16 2012: I agree Robert....many of these people are generational welfare families....another crack in a system that was meant to support people through hard times.

          I do not believe it would be a "reduction in lifestyle" to be employed. I believe it would be empowering. When we change our thoughts, we change our feelings, and we may change the life experience. If we continue to say things that keep people in the "boxes" they have lived in, we continue to support it.

          I agree that they generally know the system pretty well, and often use it effectively. So, why don't we change the system that we as a society provide? That may be a solution we could all participate in....yes?
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        Sep 14 2012: Perhaps the unemployed or those that do not own property, or are not white, or are not male should not get to vote.
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          Sep 14 2012: They would just twist our arms and make us vote their way. :)
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      Sep 13 2012: l"m trying to get correct figure for how many actual felons there are out there in the US. I assume the yearly figures accumulate over a given generation to a very large number.

      In the early days of the US, they pursued an alternate path during election time. The felons were turned out of prison in order to get them to vote. Now, the number of arrests increase during election time and decline suddenly afterwards. You can clearly see this on the graphs drawn by the Federal Justice department.

      Each journey begins with a step..... but it doesn't end with that one step. There are very few one step journeys.
  • Sep 13 2012: I do not see how they should possibly be allowed to vote. As their peers have condemed them as having contempt for the law and the rights of others - as stated. If felons could vote, I wonder how long it would take before we would have our elections being "run from the inside"? My point of view - felons have too many rights already, they cost us too much money and have too many privilidges.
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      Sep 13 2012: Suzann, Interesting point. We know that gang leaders issue orders from the "inside". If mike the murderer was a prison gang member and got out and ran, elected, and served as Chief of Police I wonder what influence the gang would have on his department and investigations.

      The gang leader could literally promise and deliver thousands of votes and influence thousands more.

      Thinking along these lines we could develop many "what if" plots.

      Thanks for the answer. Bob.
      • Sep 13 2012: Bob do you really believe that our current American government is not run by special interest groups that protect their friends and allies? Wake up and smell the coffee sir, look at the economic results this country gets and come to realize the congress is a millionaires club which has been infiltrated by big business.

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-09/justice-finds-no-viable-basis-for-charges-against-goldman.html

        Now tell me who again is issuing orders to protect their friends?
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          Sep 13 2012: Your right. We should take the vote away from congress also.
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          Sep 14 2012: I agree with Robert only people who live in Georgia should be allowed to vote. It would be the best thing for the whole country. Trust me.
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      Sep 13 2012: Who are their peers? Are the peers perfect? Have they never committed even a simple crime, run a red light, a stop sign, or wrote a bad check which, even by accident, is a felony. Was the peer an all white jury judging a none white defendant? Were they an all woman jury judging a man charged with rape, sexual molestation, sexual assault?

      The whole idea is more complicate than IMO, I think they bal. bla. bla.

      The answer to this question requires in depth study and analysis. Any one of us could be arrested because we didn't see the little girl run out from between the bushes before we hit her with our car and forgot to bring our wallet or purse which contained our drivers license. The problem is even more compounded if we happen to look a bit Mexican by ancestry. We could be arrested on felony charges at any given time of the day. A the time of arrest is not the time to start dealing with the issue.

      People are being released from prison, after serving a decade or more, because they just happen to look like the person in the photo, even though they were at home with their families. Why would the peers disregard this evidence?

      Is the janitor who works at the local school a qualified peer in a multi-million dollar law suit against a corporation that has polluted the water in a local community, killing many with cancer and other medical problems? Should the corporate executives be charged with felony crimes? What's the difference between a large group of people that kill citizens with neglect and a grandmother who was talking on the cell phone when she ran the stop sign hitting the school bus? Why do we charge the grandmother with felony manslaughter and only fine the corporation?
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    Sep 13 2012: If you seriously want to know the facts about how Sentences are carried out, how they affect people and how the criminal justice system really works and, is used for political purposes, check out this link:

    http://www.sentencingproject.org/template/index.cfm
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      Sep 13 2012: John, I do not think it fair to make my decision on this site or any one site as they definately have a agenda and the facts are skewed to that direction.

      I worked on the street and in the prison system. I have good and bad stories.

      Thanks. Bob.
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        Sep 13 2012: And the Federal Justice department doesn't have an agenda and doesn't skew their facts in their direction?

        What organization did you work for or were you alone? I'm familiar with the stories. They swing through the entire human spectrum.

        By the way, thank you for you work and your interest in human beings. There are a shortage of us. The Sentencing project is an organization composed of people just like you Robert. They are seeking harmony within the world of human beings. Prison, is an inhuman place to put human beings today. Most peoples ideas of what constitutes a felon is severely distorted by word of mouth and imagination more so than actually interacting with them. Most people probably interact with at least ten felons everyday in the offices they enter and or shopping marts they visit. Can you pick them out of the crowd? While 2.58 million people may be in prison or jail at any given time in the US, the number of people who were convicted of a felony accumulates over a generation to a very high figure, which has not been computer yet but some knowledgeable people figure it well past 1/3 of our entire US population over any given generation. You begin to see why so many people are out of work. Who is going to hire a felon? There are enough felons in the population to create a small army.
        Imagine being attacked by an army of Martha Stuarts with anger painted all over their faces?
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          Sep 13 2012: You bet the government tells us what they want us to know. The idea of interacting with one Martha Stewart scares the Marines into retreat.

          I have heard the same stats that 1 in 3 either are or have been in jail.

          While I was working in the prison a felon who had promised to kill me, my family, and my dog was released and moved within three blocks of us.

          All in a days work. See ya. Bob.
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    Sep 12 2012: IMHO, I think you forfeit the right to vote when you commit a felony.
    • Sep 12 2012: Helen there are plenty of drug felons who have problems with addiction who recover and lead normal lives. There is a misconception that felons are just violent brutes who have it out for society, it just isn't that simple. 1 in 31 people in the united states is incarcerated, on parole, or on probation this is not a small sum and the vast majority of which will never have a say in the direction of society. The justice system is also incredibly biased against the economically impoverished. When Nixon started the war on drugs he turned a medical issue into a criminal one and thus we see why the united states has the highest incarceration rate in the world. What is it saying to felons who wish to change the system that they have zero say in their countries political process? What could be more disenfranchising?
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        Sep 12 2012: I agree with Helen. I also believe that once the felon has paid their debt, they should be allowed to vote, as others on this thread have mentioned.

        Helen, I know, has worked in corrections, as I have, so I think we have a little background? I agree Brian that it is not a good message to send to felons that they cannot be a part of the system. However, because of their criminal behaviors, they seperated themselves from those who want to live useful lives in the system. Often, they violated the rights of others. Again, I believe that when their debt to society is paid, and they show that they are going to be contributing members of the society, they can have the right to vote again
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          Sep 13 2012: Colleen, In all my years working in the prison system I never once heard a felon say I did not know that was against the law. They knew it was punishable, they knew the punishment, they continued on. As in drugs, when the rewards are greater that the consequences then they consider it worthwile to commit the crime.

          I do not think that rights should be reinstated to people who blatently disregarded the law and rights of others. Major offenses (felonys) should have long term consequences.

          Always good to hear from you my friend.
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        Sep 13 2012: I agree Robert....I never heard that either....yes....they knew it was punishable if they were caught, and they took the risk anyway.

        If we are honestly working toward rehabilitation, then I think we need to consider reinstateing the rights of those who offended IF they demonstrate something different than living a life as a criminal.

        Where does change start? With us? Them? The system? .
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          Sep 13 2012: Hi Colleen...............I stand with you on the reinstatement of voting rights to felons IF they really are done with crime. I don't like our system of justice anymore than you do but my experience with parolees is that the recidivist rate is fairly high. We need to make our justice system based on restoring and rehabilitating these people as far as is possible.
          I hold that punishment is a human construct and has no business in our society. I think I have said that before. (:>)
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          Sep 13 2012: As ones who have been there ... Have you ever worked anywhere that was concerned with rehabilitation of the iinmate.

          Prison are a warehousing facility. Many changes would have to happen in order for rehibilitation to occur. Inmates with two years or less to a special unit to keep them from being introduced to hard criminals. Perhaps designer prisons where housing by crime category. Drug users in one .. drug dealer in another. In that manner the staff could be dedicated to the specific issues. We know that the inmates run the prison but revamping would allow the staff to be a influence. At one point we had a bucket full of administrators and 9 security staff on duty to control 2000 inmates. If a fight broke out on one side you could bet that a lot of really bad stuff was occuring on the other side. Inmates are not being rehibilitated they are being converted into hardened convicts with a career of crime in their future.

          We must have punishment. There must be consequences for actions both good and bad. Perhaps the only real cure is time. After 20 or more years in prison the convict starts to mellow out. He is still a con man. But has begin to understand that violance was never the answer. He still has the obligation to join the fights against other gangs and the guards but the fire is not there.

          Good exchanges. Thank you. Bob.
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        Sep 13 2012: I don't know about drug felons but I'm sure glad they took that vicious criminal, Martha Stewart off the streets before she did something even more heinous. You don't have to be a felon to be a heinous minded person. You can just pass a memo that states it's alright to torture people to death to get information out of them but you won't be considered as someone having contempt for the law or lacking human compassion.

        Most prisons in America today are for-profit, private enterprises that make increasing amounts of money as more people are incarcerated. A high rate of recidivism just makes their industry richer and guarantees their income.

        These enterprises make money by purchasing and feeding to prisoners, meat where it is plainly marked on the boxes, "Not fit for human consumption". They cut corners at every turn, even depriving inmates of blood pressure medications and simple pain medications like ibuprofen. Toothaches are not considered painful.

        Every year there is some story circulating about someone(s) who died or was killed because of inhuman practices in our prison system. Women are regularly taken advantage of in nearly all prisons in the US. Rape occurs everyday in the prison system by correction officials, along with other deprivations that if done to common citizens on the outside would be considered manic, criminal behavior.

        The figures of how many people convicted of a felony is develop from the period between 2004 and 2010. That figure is 5,85 million people. We have no records that go further back than these years, that are valid. One estimate,if we go back from age 70 to 18 is that over 1/4 of the voting population in the US is prohibited from voting because of felony convictions.

        I guess we start to see why there are such low numbers at the voting booths. I'm sure those who have worked in corrections might be able to give us some better numbers due to their in depth knowledge of the situation in prisons around the country.
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          Sep 13 2012: Hi John,
          I assume your comment about Martha Stewart is facetious? I believe that those who commit crimes which are not threatening to the health and well being of community members could pay their debt in other ways....community service....financial compensation....etc. It makes no sense to me, for us (tax payers) to spend $60,000 - $80.000 a year, per person, to keep someone like Martha Stewart incarcerated.

          Regarding your statement..."
          "Most prisons in America today are for-profit, private enterprises that make increasing amounts of money as more people are incarcerated. A high rate of recidivism just makes their industry richer and guarantees their income."

          I agree with you that for-profit, private enterprises that make increasing amounts of money as more people are incarcerated, are probably NOT going to increase rehabilitation opportunities.

          I thought most prisons in the US were privatized too, until another conversation on this topic awhile ago. We are certainly headed in that direction....here are some numbers.

          http://www.propublica.org/article/by-the-numbers-the-u.s.s-growing-for-profit-detention-industry
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        Sep 13 2012: Robert,
        This is a response to your comment which begins:

        "As ones who have been there ... Have you ever worked anywhere that was concerned with rehabilitation of the iinmate".

        Some people within the system were genuinely concerned, and working toward rehabilitaion. The administration as a whole...No. Some State and Federal laws require certain types of rehab programs, so there seemed to be the "appearance" of these programs, but they were not very effeciently organized or encouraged.

        You write Bob...."Many changes would have to happen in order for rehibilitation to occur".

        I don't perceive a lot of changes would have to happen. I think it would require programs that are supposedly in place, be effectively implemented. That is one perception that often holds us back from change......the idea that it would take a HUGE CHANGE......LOTS OF ADDITIONAL FUNDING, etc. I believe it could happen much easier than that. Someone needs to care enough to actually work toward rehabilitation. Hanging a sign on a door that says "AA meeting room" is not enough....that is something that I witnessed....they hang a sign on the door pretending that a program is actually in place, when in fact, the administration somehow discourages meetings.

        I would like to see prisons/correctional facilities be self sustaining villages, where those incarcerated could learn skills to be able to support themselves when released, and a working community in which they could learn how to live peacefully in community.

        A facility I volunteered in, had extensive gardens, which started out as a small project, and grew into an endeaver, which supplied the facility, as well as several non-profits with vegetables. 3 men who came into the cognitive self change sessions I co-facilitated, came directly from the gardens. Of the 10 participants, we could tell the difference in the men who worked out in the fresh air and sun, doing something that was very productive....they were more open to change in themselves.
        • Sep 13 2012: Great story colleen, this is an idea worth spreading!
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        Sep 13 2012: Hi Brian,
        I believe it is worth spreading as well. However, with institutions privatizing, there really is no incentive. In Vermont, we used to have work crews out of one of the facilities. Painting crew which painted public buildings, furniture repair and construction for government offices, motor vehicle liscence production, machanics shop which maintained government vehicles, etc. All of that is gone now, and that is a shame. There are SO many things we could be doing differently. The garden project, for example, didn't cost much at all....a couple small tillers, garden tools, correctional officers who guarded the offenders simply moved outside (good for them too)!

        The guys had an opportunity to produce something that was much needed, it actually SAVED the dept. money by providing all fresh vegetables and services for the facilities! It is a win/win situation, and in my opinion, we could and should have more of these projects. While the garden is still operating, all the other programs are gone!
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          Sep 13 2012: Great work Colleen. I will forward the pdf document from the site you sent me to the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group for reform in Sentencing Guidelines and prison systems so they can decipher the differences.

          Their figures disagree with those provided by the Justice Department substantially. If you take Brian Klinks figures and subtract the figures from the pdf I got from the site you sent me the difference is compelling. 2.58 - 1.6 (Million) = .98 (million).

          I did notice on the graphs associated with the documents on the site you sent me that, their appeared to be a rise in arrests just before and around dates associated with elections, followed by a shape decline immediately after. These two statistics are associated with both Presidential and Congressional election times. (Interesting).

          No, I don't consider Martha Stewart to be a vicious criminal, It is sad that those associated with her crime (males) did not also go to jail. I think she was a scapegoat.

          But, she is a convicted felon and should be a statistic associated with this conversation.

          If she is an example of just 30% of those incarcerated for felony arrests and convictions, it should indicate the caliber of what we are calling felons. I would suggest that when we conjure an image of a "Felon" in our minds, that the image of Martha Stewart should pop up, instead of James Cagney. It might alter our perspective on the idea of what is a Felon.
  • Sep 12 2012: This has always been puzzling to me. On the one hand, I think that voting is a right. However, unlike some rights, the legislator has the power to determine who can vote and who cannot, subject to judicial revue.

    IMO, the most compelling argument for disallowing felons to vote is that it promotes corruption. Prisoners definitely should NOT be able to vote for or against the officials currently responsible for them.

    Once the felon is completely free (out of prison, not on parole, etc.) it seems reasonable to believe that the felon's vote probably would not be based on a rational consideration of the issues.

    Also, there is the fact that the government is a body of law, and the felon has demonstrated his contempt for the law.

    So, I think it is best if felons are prohibited from voting.

    But this is one of those slippery slope issues. It brings up the question, what other groups could be prohibited from voting? What criteria should be applied? Some people believe that only informed voters should have the vote, and on the face of it, this makes a lot of sense. It also would be an excellent means for an administration to disqualify the voters it does not want voting, and stay in power indefinitely.

    If we prohibit felons from voting, how can I assure that the legislator will not prohibit me from voting?
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    Sep 12 2012: privilege it is? sounds scary.