Felony Conviction and Voting

Posted: February 09, 2017

The Aim of Solving the Problem

Felony is a serious crime or offense that could be violent or non-violent. Examples of these offenses are murder, arson, rape and aggravated assault among others. If an individual gets convicted of such a crime, he faces substantial penalties like several years in the county jail or the state prison, a huge fine or both. During the incarceration period, one cannot participate in the voting process, and this issue seems to go against their constitutional rights (Gabbidon & Greene, 2012). The problem with a felony conviction in relation to voting is that it is ethically unjustifiable to deny a convict the right to vote. Although prisoners lose a vast number of rights, do not mean that they should be denied to exercise all their civil rights.  When these individuals are deprived of the right to vote, this is undermining respect for the rule of law. In contrast, allowing them to vote potentially strengths their commitment and social ties to the common good of a country. As such, the problem of taking away the prisoners’ rights to vote tampers with my need to promote legally responsible participation in civil society especially where it comes to the selection of country’s leaders.

The purpose of dealing with a felony conviction and voting is to find out whether there could be help for the felons to vote regardless of whether they are in prison or not. Additionally, the offenders have difficulties in voting because they have to wait for a specified period for the restoration of such rights. Moreover, it is important that people get fair trials before being sentenced to jail for felonies (Gabbidon & Greene, 2012). Also, not every felony ex-convict is a bad person because some are cases of mistaken identity and one could have been a victim of such. Therefore, authorities need to be keen to protect innocent people from suffering in jail.

The kind of problem in this situation is the lack of convict’s rights to vote. Since the felons are also citizens of the country, they should participate in the voting process because the appointed leaders serve them as well. (Ruth, Matusitz & Simi, 2016). To solve this problem, I have teamed up with my colleagues to talk to the authorities so that they provide more lawyers to the convict at no charge. These lawyers will help in fighting for the prisoners’ rights to vote. Also, I will talk to the concerned authorities to ensure that the released convicts do not have to reapply for their right to vote. Instead, once they get out of jail, they will continue exercising their rights without restrictions. The fact that they have left prison does not mean that they are less human or unable to participate in the process. Actually, by the time some leave the jail, they are totally reformed and ready to help in building the society.

However, there are some issues that I cannot control in such situations, and the first one is how the convicts conduct themselves. During the trial, some offenders misbehave in court and remand. Such behaviors make it hard for the authorities to be lenient with them (Ruth, Matusitz & Simi, 2016). Additionally, other convicts have histories of being in jail and therefore, defending them becomes difficult because they seem like serial offenders. However, I can help in writing to the authorities to provide the people with more lawyers so that they get fair sentences. Additionally, we can assist the released convicts with the voting process by helping them re-apply for their right to vote.

To help in solving the problem the felon’s inability to vote, I will need to know the circumstances that led to the conviction. Moreover, it is crucial to know whether the victim had questionable morals in the society. To get such information, I could find the convicts and inquire what happened from them. Also, I would visit their residence to know the events that led to the conviction (Meredith & Morse, 2015). The aim of getting such information will be to find out if the people had a chance to just trial, and if they have a history of being in jail. Additionally, attending court hearings will be substantial because I get the opportunity to see how the trial process takes place.

The theories concerning this problem are the deterrence and rehabilitation theories. Deterrence postulates that once the possibilities of apprehending offenders increase, people get afraid of committing crimes. Criminals are the same as the law-abiding citizens, and if they face the threat of going to jail, they will refrain from their evil habits. On the other hand, rehabilitation entails reducing the harmful forces that lead people to crime. Examples of the issues are a lack of employment opportunities, poverty, and racial discrimination. If the authorities address such matters, the society will have fewer problems and felony cases will reduce. Sometimes, citizens commit crimes due to the circumstances surrounding them.

The options for action in the short term would be to help out the felony convicts by talking to lawyers to assist in their cases. However, it can be challenging because few people are willing to represent the criminals for free (Meredith & Morse, 2015). Also, I would like the felony convicts to have voting rights whether their sentences are over or not. However, it is hard because some decisions have to come from the parliament which implements the laws. Therefore, I do not have the power to make that happen for now but in the long run, there is hope that a representative will propose such a bill in parliament. However, I lack money to facilitate activities like helping the ex-convicts to re-apply for their rights. I also do not have the power to compel the legislators to amend the laws that will enable the prisoners to vote. Additionally, I am usually busy, and I cannot get enough time to visit as many prisoners as I would like.

If the convicts get enough lawyers to represent them in court for free, they will not get harsh sentences for petty crimes. Additionally, it will be easier to investigate whether a person is an offender and it will help people from unfair trials and jail terms. If the convicts get the voting rights, they will be able to decide the leader they want to find once they get out of prison (Gerber et al., 2015). On the other hand, offenders can take advantage of their representatives and commit more crimes because they know they will not face difficulties in court. Additionally, it would not be sensible to trust the convicts with voting judgment. Since children and people of unsound mind cannot vote, it will be inappropriate for an incarcerated individual to do so.

I came up with the strategy of writing a letter to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to help the convicts get their voting rights. I outlined all my views and requested him to look into the matter to ensure that people do not get wrongful sentences. Also, fair trials and rehabilitations could be better for the offenders. Additionally, it would be helpful to provide counseling services to help people who have been in jail for a long term. It will assist them to adjust back to the society without reservations. The ex-convicts will also regain their confidence and feel free to vote one more.

This strategy will help petty offenders to get lenient sentences like community service. It will also ensure that authorities conduct proper investigations before passing their judgment. However, those who are guilty of their offenses will have to serve their sentences. Additionally, people still serving their jail term might get a chance of voting in future. Despite being in prison, it is important to allow them to practice some of their rights.