Voting rights for ex-felons is sometimes a difficult topic to discuss. It is tinged with charges of racism, pandering to special interest groups, or even being soft on crime. However, once we step away from the usual kneejerk reactions, we find a strange bipartisan support for restoring voting rights to ex cons.
Naturally Rand Paul is at the forefront of the voting rights for ex-felons movement. Senator Paul is sponsoring legislation, along with Harry Reid to restore voting rights to non violent felons in federal elections. Not only is it the right thing to do; after all, if you have done the time, you’ve paid for your crime, but it also helps ex cons transition back into civil society.
Historically voting restrictions on felons have been used as a tool of social control. In the U.S., a higher per capita percentage of black adults are barred from voting than their white counterparts, leaving large portions of the African American community disenfranchised. In many cases, these convictions were born out of stupid tough on crime laws, or heavy handed reactions from the war on drugs, and serve only as a tool of legalized oppression.
However, Rand Paul is not an oppressor, but is rather a friend of liberty. And it is impossible to have liberty when you deny it to millions of Americans who have made mistakes, but are seeking every way possible to return to the good graces of society.
America is a land of opportunity and second chances, and yet we deny opportunity and second chance to our fellow citizens over things as absurd as having the wrong amount of the wrong plant in their pocket. All across the union, states are working to undo decades of a shameful legacy of harassment and oppression, and are recognizing that non violent offenders have often in fact paid the price for their crimes, and are quite capable and often desperate to return to society.
Rand Paul wants to strip the stigma of the scarlet letter “F” that so many Americans have been branded with for past mistakes. Restoring voting rights for ex-felons restores liberty and freedom to those who understand most what the loss of those precious treasures mean. A small bit of reform will have a powerful effect across the nation, as millions of formerly disenfranchised minorities and struggling Americans once again are welcomed back into the warm embrace of freedom. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Written by Steve Coffman
(Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
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