Last week, I watched “The Constitution, with Peter Sagal” on PBS with my family.
They interviewed a woman from Kentucky who had to fight for thirteen years to get the right to vote. While the fact that she was a minority and a female could have prevented her in the past from voting, those weren’t the reasons she had to fight for the right to vote. She was a convict. In numerous states, including my birth-state, Kentucky, convicts lose the right to vote.
I can understand not allowing people currently serving in prison to not vote (although, you could argue they should still be able to vote), but to exclude people from voting who have already served their time, makes no sense at all.
The female convict on the PBS show was working to benefit her community in many ways. But it still took her over a decade to vote.
Jesus talks about proclaiming good news to the poor and release to the captives (Luke 4:18; quoting Isa. 61:1). He also says when we visit people in prison, it’s like we’re visiting him (Matt. 25:36). While Jesus never says we should allow convicts to vote, he certainly wanted them to be empowered. Giving them the vote would seem to be consistent with Jesus‘ priorities.
Although, it’s hard to imagine that getting convicts the right to vote would be a popular political issue. We’d need a slogan. Here’s where Dick Van Dyke could help, “Votes for convicts, step-in-time“?
(DVD takes a lot of slack from the critics for his accent in Mary Poppins, but the guy was a solid actor, a good singer, a great dancer, and a hilarious comedian. I’d like to see those critics dance on a rooftop like him. Why pick on him for his accent?)
What do you think? Should convicts have the right to vote in all 50 states?
David, as one who works to minister in several prisons in our state I find this question very intriguing. Here’s another way of asking the question. Should those who have committed a crime against the state be allowed to contribute to how that state is governed? I do believe that if you have committed a felony crime that there are certain privileges as a citizen you have forfeited. If convicted felons are allowed to vote they could theoretically vote to enact laws that benefit people who have committed crimes in which case they would be benefitting from their crime. I would agree with you that once you have served your time you should be allowed to vote. From my perspective as a follower of Torah the current system of law in this country allows people to live that from a Torah perspective would have received capitol punishment (murderers and rapist for instance). Do we really want people voting who think that murder and rape are acceptable forms of relating to humanity?
Even though she’s an ex-convict she has lost the entitlement to vote. Sin has its consequences. Forgiveness yes, voting no. You can’t unscramble an egg.
Denise, sin has it’s consequences, but Jesus consistently advocated on the side of mercy, and I think we should too when it comes to convicts.
Brent, yes they could enact those types of laws, but don’t see that happening. Again, I think it makes sense to not allow people serving in prison to not vote, but to continue to punish people after they’ve served their time sounds like double jeopardy. Sounds like injustice to me.