CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Adelman on The Persistence of Penal Disenfranchisement

Lynn Adelman (U.S. District Court - Eastern District of WI) has posted The Persistence of Penal Disenfranchisement: Suppressing Votes the Old Fashioned Way on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This article discusses penal disenfranchisement, the practice of prohibiting millions of American citizens who have been convicted of crimes from voting. Most states have laws providing for penal disenfranchisement. The article argues that barring individuals from voting by reason of a prior criminal conviction is both unjustified and counterproductive. The public interest is best served by integrating individuals who have offended into society, and this interest is not served by denying such individuals the right to vote. The article explores the history of penal disenfranchisement and the various reasons that have been offered over the years in support of it, both non-punitive and punitive, and explains why none are persuasive. Further, the piece argues that the practice of penal disenfranchisement is particularly harmful to the interests of the African-American community. Finally, the article discusses whether there are any possible means of relief for people disenfranchised because of a prior conviction. With respect to legal remedies, the article concludes that Supreme Court precedent regarding the issue unfortunately is unhelpful. The article also finds that at the present time, it is unlikely that a great deal of progress is likely to be made through legislation.

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