Project Wonderful

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Laws That Prohibit ONE IN EVERY 13 BLACK AMERICANS from voting

Earlier this week, President Obama became the first US President to visit a federal prison (really? yes) and also made a very important comment in a speech to the NAACP's 2015 National Convention, “If folks have served their time, and they’ve re-entered society, they should be able to vote.”

From Vox: 5.8 million Americans weren't legally allowed to vote due to their criminal records in 2012, according to data analyzed by the Sentencing Project. Several states prohibited 6 to 11 percent of their electorate from voting. And since black Americans are likelier to go to prison, this had a disproportionate impact on the African-American electorate: While the overall disenfranchisement rate didn't break 11 percent for any state, the black disenfranchisement rate topped 20 percent in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.

The link between the systematic disenfranchisement and systematic incarceration of black people is real and harrowing. It is not an accident and it is not a coincidence. It is not that far a leap from other measures that have been used to reach the same ends. Breaking the link won't cure a racist system, but it is an important step. Watch for this issue moving forward and ask your candidates about it in 2016. I'm going to leave you with a quote from President Obama's NAACP speech.

“Today I’ve been talking about the criminal justice system, but we have to recognize that it’s not something that we can view in isolation. Any system that allows us to turn a blind eye to hopelessness and despair—that’s not a justice system. It’s an injustice system. But that’s an extension and a reflection of some broader decisions that we’re making as a society. And that has to change.”

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