Allowing people in prison to vote

Fourteen states and DC allow voting rights to be restored automatically upon release from prison.

elon-voting-bars-buttonHmm. The idea of allowing people in prison to vote had never really crossed my mind before recent events.

Now the notion that people who were OUT of prison regaining the franchise HAS been an issue for me. For instance, voting rights can ONLY be restored through an individual petition or application to the government in Iowa and Kentucky, a draconian process.

This was also the standard in Florida until 2018, when the people decided to change it. Voting rights are now restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including prison, parole, and probation.

The right to vote is restored automatically once released from prison and discharged from parole – probationers can vote – in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and New York. I can support this.

Fourteen states and DC allow voting rights to be restored automatically upon release from prison. Hey, this appeals to me even more.

But in Maine and Vermont, voting rights are retained while in prison, even for a felony conviction. This partially explains the position of Bernie Sanders, Presidential candidate and the US senator from the Green Mountain State

In an interview with Truthout’s Amy Goodman, Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones, notes: “Prisoners are already counted for redistricting purposes, so they are already counted where they are incarcerated, but yet they’re not allowed to vote. So it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

“And if you believe the purpose of prison is not just punishment, but rehabilitation, then allowing people to still have one of their most fundamental civic responsibilities is a key aspect of rehabilitation.”

Of course, this gets into the whole conversation about whether prison is designed for incarceration or rehabilitation. Check out this 60 Minutes story about how a Connecticut prison is trying to implement a German-style (i.e., civilized) system.

How do other countries deal with the voting issue? Here is a chart of how 45 countries regulate the ability of felons to vote in or , out of prison, or not at all. Note that Canada and Germany are among the least restrictive.

This Truthout title caught my attention: Allowing People in Prison to Vote Shouldn’t Be Controversial. “The mass disenfranchisement of incarcerated people [in the United States] has a racist past and a racist present, and has been used in particular as a tool to suppress the Black vote.” This is clearly true.

“The denial of the vote to people behind bars takes a sharp toll on many marginalized communities, subjecting them to what many call ‘civil death’ — depriving a person of all legal rights.”

Naturally, Arthur chimed in on this issue – in fact, his post popped up as I was writing this piece. “Incarceration is disproportionately directed at people who aren’t white. But that’s an issue on its own, and not, by itself, a reason to let all prisoners vote. Or, maybe it should be?

“Maybe it could help restore justice to the criminal justice system by letting the victims of that system have a say. I don’t yet know what I think, but I’m listening.” That’s about where I’m at. But I’m leaning towards Bernie’s position, significant in that I had had NO position only weeks ago.

Whither? Zither! I still don’t care

It’s my general disdain for having to deal with the political process this early.

zitherAnother Ask Roger Anything reply! Bill, who I know because he’s a friend of my sister Leslie: OK, here’s my question: Whither?

There’s obviously a lot going on in my subconscious.

To which, Dan, who I know IRL, replied: Wither? Zither!

In a recent dream, I’m at some sort of conference, where the participants are sitting in a large circle. The instructor is riding me constantly for being so backwards. I’m using a tablet when everyone else is using their smartwatches.

I’m becoming increasingly irritated. After repeated snark, I storm out of the room.

For some reason, rioting ensues on the campus. I am sitting on a toilet, with people pounding on the door to get in; it is NOT the only stall.

Bernie Sanders walks into my stall. I get up and throw him down a flight of stairs.

This is obviously a dream about my technophobia. Plus it’s my general disdain for having to deal with the political process this early. It’s not so much antagonism towards Bernie, who I voted for in the 2016 Democratic primary.

To wit, Kevin, who I’ve known since college, asked: Who do you favor for the Dem. nomination for Pres at this point in the campaign?

As I noted here and especially here, I don’t care all that much, yet.

I AM grumpy about people saying that Joe or Bernie or Elizabeth – who appear to be the front runners, so far – should not run because they’re over 70, or will be soon.

This piece about Mayor Pete pleased me.

I don’t think my senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a shot. She was perceived as too “corporatist” early, and she got Al Franken booted out of the Senate. (The actual facts re: the latter are irrelevant to the narrative.)

Re: Beto, I’m still trying to figure out if there’s a there there.

I get more email from Jay Inslee, governor of Washington state, than any other candidate, almost entirely on environmental issues. It IS a way to differentiate himself.

Why people hate politics

vote-button-3I was a political science major at the State University of New York at New Paltz in the 1970s, a fairly yeasty time of Vietnam, Watergate (I watched the hearings voraciously) and the first President (Gerald Ford) selected through the 25th Amendment, after Vice President Spiro Agnew, and later President Richard Nixon, left office.

I remember the sharp partisan divide. Yet I recall a strong sense of duty to country, being greater than duty to party, taking place, as the Republican members of the Senate committee investigating the break-in, and the House committee that was considering the impeachment of a Republican President, resolutely, though not without anguish.

The political climate in the United States in 2016 is awful. Continue reading “Why people hate politics”

Where is the revolution?

Huge outbreak of civil disobedience. The cause?

revolutionActress Susan Sarandon has said “some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately, if he gets in. Then things will really, you know, explode.” She made similar comments on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

Then last week, on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, “Sarandon took her argument a step further, all but encouraging [Bernie] Sanders supporters to sit out in November should Clinton become the Democratic nominee.”

I know other people willing to vote for DJT rather than HRC, because Trump will either make things better or so much worse Continue reading “Where is the revolution?”

The Lydster: Feeling the Bern

I swear I saw Joe Bruno.

Trumpcar2On Monday, April 11, not one but THREE Presidential candidates were going to be in the Capital District of New York State: John Kasich (R), Bernie Sanders (D), and Donald Drumpf (R). A day or two before, The Daughter started wheedling me – why didn’t she bug her mother? – to see one of them, the one alphabetically last.

I said no. I said no because I was afraid she might get hurt. She said that no one was going to hurt a little girl, but I noted that she is taller than most adult women. She should watch him on television. (I was also afraid I might get hurt, but I didn’t bring that up.)

Her counter-proposal was to see Bernie Sanders. I noted that he too would be on TV, and he was speaking during the school day.

“But it would be educational!” Continue reading “The Lydster: Feeling the Bern”