Race, Reconstruction and Felon Voting

After the Civil War, a new kind of felon disenfranchisement emerged as a way to limit the political and social power of African American men. During and after the Reconstruction Era, it became clear that the Southern political leadership was determined to keep newly-freed slaves at the bottom of the social and economic system.

Targeted Disenfranchisement

Southern states — with the implicit Something that isn’t official or isn’t specifically said, but that everyone knows to be true support of the Supreme Court — passed laws that made misdemeanors Minor criminal violations grounds to disenfranchise citizens.  Crimes such as homelessness, theft and loitering, as well as “moral turpitude Acting “immorally” based on community standards” were offenses that were targeted to — and selectively enforced against — black men, who then became ineligible to vote.

Civic Marginalization

Since African American men were disproportionately and often unfairly convicted of misdemeanors, statutes like these were powerful tools of suppression against African American political power, and have been used since to disenfranchise large numbers of marginalized Social marginalization happens when a group of people are denied equal and adequate opportunity to determine their treatment by the members of the broader society. It usually includes the lack of representation, recognition of rights and equal redistribution of resources and services community members.

bus-to-prison.jpg

A protest against what are often referred to as "new Jim Crow laws"
An eighteen-year-old first-time offender who trades a guilty plea for a lenient nonprison sentence (as almost all first-timers do, whether or not they are guilty) may unwittingly sacrifice forever his right to vote.”
Andrew Shapiro, an attorney who has closely studied criminal disenfranchisement