STUDY: 13% Of Black Men Ineligible to Vote 10/30/98

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

A study released jointly last week by The Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch finds that 13%, approximately 1.4 million African American men, are ineligible to vote -- many permanently -- due to their criminal records. That percentage is seven times the national average. Overall, 3.9 million Americans have been disenfranchised.

Laws vary widely between states regarding a convicted felon's right to vote. 31 states restrict voting for those on probation or parole, while in 14 states, a single felony conviction can lead to lifetime disenfranchisement. In Arizona and Maryland, two-time offenders lose their eligibility for life.

Marc Mauer, Assistant Director of The Sentencing Project, spoke with The Week Online.

WOL: This report seems to have hit a nerve with people -- not unlike a previous Sentencing Project report which found that one in three young black males in America were under criminal justice supervision -- what kind of response has the organization gotten?

MAUER: We've been very pleased with the response to this study. A lot of people were shocked to hear about these findings and the policies that created them. Most people didn't realize the level of disenfranchisement. Also, I think that there's been a recognition that harsh criminal justice policies have contributed to the explosion of these numbers over the past twenty-five years or so.

WOL: Do you think that the reaction will translate into action on the ground?

MAUER: We've been very happy to hear from people in a number of different states who are thinking about beginning litigation or introducing legislation as a result of the report, to try to overturn some of the state-level policies in this regard. So we're hoping to see some movement. It's encouraging to see the report spur this kind of interest.

WOL: What kind of impact does this level of disenfranchisement have in the real world?

MAUER: Well, we're talking about almost four million people here. So while its difficult to know what impact this has had electorally, it is a fairly substantial potential voting block. I think particularly when we look at the impact on the black community, which has been so disproportionately impacted, it really points to the fact that we as a society -- whether consciously or not -- we are diluting the voting strength of the black community through this really massive disenfranchisement. In some communities the number of disenfranchised voters is very high, and so it's likely to have both an electoral and a sociological impact.

WOL: So what's the next step?

MAUER: We're hoping to capitalize on the interest that the report has garnered to see if we can promote more discussion and activity in this area. Also, we'd like to stimulate discussion and research on some of the other consequences of enforcement and drug policy over the past few decades.

WOL: Finally, could you tell us what impact the Drug War has had on this massive disenfranchisement?

MAUER: Clearly, over the last fifteen years, drug policy has been the primary catalyst of the explosion of prison populations, particularly with regard to minority communities. It is the one area that if we could make policy changes in that area that would make an enormous impact on some of the disturbing numbers that we see.

(The Sentencing Project/Human Rights Watch study, which is titled "Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States," can be found online on the Human Rights Watch web site at http://www.hrw.org/reports98/vote/. The Sentencing Project is online at http://www.sentencingproject.org. The third annual conference of the Campaign for an Effective Crime Policy, a project that is affiliated with the Sentencing Project, will be held in Bethesda, Maryland on Nov. 12-14 -- for information, call (202) 628-1903, e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.crimepolicy.org.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #65, 10/30/98 Announcements | STUDY: 13% Of Black Men Ineligible to Vote | Mother Holding Child Shot by Police in Her Home | Medical Marijuana Goes to Voters on Tuesday | Forces Lined Up For and Against I-59 | Report from Oregon | Court Ruling Ends Reverse Marijuana Sting Operations | Tasmanian Government Wants Possession of Marijuana Legalized | Editorial: The 13% Solution
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]