In CA, incarcerated men & women, and folks on parole for a felony conviction, are legally barred from voting. A new petition known as the Voting Restoration & Democracy Act of 2018 is trying to alter that. The petition needs somewhere around 568,000 signatures to qualify as a valid initiative to be placed on the November ’18 ballot.
180,000 Californians cannot vote because of a felony conviction. Like many criminal justice policies, the disparate effects are geographically isolated. In South Central Los Angeles, only 42% of the adult population retains the right to vote. Most other developed countries allow people to vote from prison. In fact, the US could be said to have the world’s most restrictive criminal disenfranchisement laws. Only 2 states in the US do not remove the right to vote for people sent to prison (Maine & Vermont).
Studies have shown that restoring voting rights lowers the risk of recidivism. We shouldn’t want folks returning from prison to feel disconnected from society, because those are precisely the folks who will be less equipped to to renter their communities as productive citizens. Removing a person’s right to vote as punishment for a crime is based on outdated ways of thinking. Incarcerated men and women are still human beings with unalienable human rights and should not be be denied the right to participate in the democratic process.