On July 16th, President Barak Obama will be the first sitting president to visit a prison.The president is visiting El Reno, a federal medium- security prison located in Oklahoma. Realistically, politicians have not visited prisons, because inmates cannot vote. Even after prison, the majority of states have prohibited returning citizens on parole, or on probation to vote. Ten states have even restricted certain felons from voting– even after their sentences are fully completed.
Only two states — Maine and Vermont — allow everyone to vote regardless of criminal record.
Felon’s Voting Rights in the United States
Over five million Americans are disenfranchised from voting even if the former inmates are again productive members of society who pay taxes. Thirteen states allow probationers and parolees the right to vote and nineteen states allow former inmates the right to vote upon completion of their sentence. Both Florida and Virginia were two of the four states that did not restore the right to vote to non-violent felons upon completion of their sentences.
Prisonpath advocates that non-violent offenders should have their voting rights automatically restored upon release from prison. By restoring their voting rights, returning citizens will regain self esteem and start their path as productive members of society.
By Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com