The loss of the right to vote because of a felony conviction under a de facto policy of mass incarceration in the U.S. means--translated into practice--that one-third of black men in Alabama can no longer vote. That is unbelievable. More will be added each year in that state and elsewhere as we continued to lock up massive numbers of inmates who are disproportionately represented by minorities and the poor. The NAACP has just completed a report on the general topic, "Free the Vote: Unlocking Democracy in the Cells and on the Streets." This is worth a close read and discussion. The question of whether disenfranchisement is inconsistent with the Voting Rights Act is an interesting one. See the recent opinion by Linda Greenhouse in "Voting Behind Bars."
April 2010 Archives
In these important times of U.S. Supreme Court replacements it is helpful to have a reference point for how the process is supposed to work. Try Supreme Court Nominations
PEW Center on the States, One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections provides the latest look at the reach of corrections in the United States. It documents the unprecedented growth in and costs of the increases in community and institutional corrections and points as well to ways out of the mess that we're in.
For some updated statistics see this study from the Correctional Research Service.