Friday, April 26, 2019

On Letting Felons Vote From Prison

Short version - aw hell no.

Longer version, I assume everyone with a pulse heard Crazy Bernie say felons should be able to vote while they're still incarcerated during a CNN Town Hall Monday night.  Sanders is quoted as saying,
“If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they're going to be punished. … But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people.”
This actually stunned the CNN talking heads, with this exchange captured by Steve Guest making the rounds on Twitter:
While discussing Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris' comments on felons & terrorists voting from prison, Don Lemon says he was “stunned” Democrats are ok with terrorists voting from prison, & Chris Cuomo said it shows that “these people are way out there.” 
It shouldn't be extremely surprising because Bernie's from Vermont.  Vermont allows felons to vote while still incarcerated and has for the entire history of the state.  Felons may even run for office while incarcerated in the Green Mountain State. 

Still, Cuomo and Lemon are right: proposing this is going to have most of America thinking the party has slipped too far.  It's interesting that another presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, (I believe that's pronounced "booty judge" - at least, that's how I pronounce it) countered Sanders, saying, “When you’re convicted of a crime and you’re incarcerated … you lose certain rights.”

I think that's the starting point.  The example of capital crimes, like the Boston Marathon Bomber that Sanders was questioned about, is particularly egregious.  This guy deprived other people of all of their rights by killing them, and I don't think it's appropriate to talk about giving the murderer more rights than his victims.  By that standard, no felon who commits murder should ever get any of their rights back.

Longtime readers will know that one of the drums I beat regularly is the Over Regulated State, including how everything is becoming a felony, and how the average American now commits three felonies a day.  I should point out that lawyer Harvey Silvergate wrote that book back in 2011; I wouldn't be surprised if one could argue that it's up to four or five felonies a day by now.  Central to this story is that there are felonies which are minor crimes compared to the Boston bombing, murder, rape or other capital crimes.  Do you remember the story of inventor Krister Evertson?
Consider small-time inventor and entrepreneur Krister Evertson, who will testify at today's hearing. Krister never had so much as a traffic ticket before he was run off the road near his mother's home in Wasilla, Alaska, by SWAT-armored federal agents in large black SUVs training automatic weapons on him.

Evertson, who had been working on clean-energy fuel cells since he was in high school, had no idea what he'd done wrong. It turned out that when he legally sold some sodium (part of his fuel-cell materials) to raise cash, he forgot to put a federally mandated safety sticker on the UPS package he sent to the lawful purchaser.
Pulled over by SWAT team in full gear, pointing guns at him, because he forgot a sticker?   The story gets a bit worse because while the jury for this trial sided with Evertson, the prosecutor was not going to let a small time mistake dangerous thug like this embarrass him, nosiree.  He came up with another crime to charge Evertson with: "abandoning" his "dangerous" fuel cell materials while he was in jail for the label incident.  Although they were stored as the valuable materials they were, and not abandoned in some sort of dangerous state, he was convicted and spent a couple of years in Federal prison because of running afoul of this prosecutor, backed by the infinite checkbook of the

Where am I going with this?  I think of someone like Evertson when I hear about felons in Federal prison, not the Boston Bomber (yeah, I know: really "terrible people" - as Bernie said - are there, too).  I think of some ordinary working guy who committed one of the countless felonies that happen everyday, but caught the attention of a zealous prosecutor.  When you're in prison, you lose many of your rights, and the right to vote doesn't seem like a major loss to me.  I lean to saying that while someone is in prison, they don't get normal citizen's rights.  Once they're released, and their "debt to society" is considered paid, they should get those rights back, including the right to legally buy a firearm, vote and all the rest.  The reality is that if someone is not in prison they can get a gun.  If the purpose is to keep them from hurting someone, and there's a genuine concern they will, keep them in prison!  Once they're out, once they've been declared ready to go back into society, they should get their rights back.

If everything is becoming a felony such that we're all committing three felonies a day, then we're all one random encounter with a zealous prosecutor from being a prohibited person and we all lose our 2nd amendment rights. This would allow us to get them back. 

(From the Daily Caller


  1. I could understand (and likely support) a post-release probationary period of a couple of years before a felon's rights are restored. After that, all rights should be restored, as you suggest.

  2. Once you start trying to figure out "what government should do", you've lost. By design, there is no way for the common man to win this.

  3. Highly restricted rights while in prison, all rights while free. Limited probation, with certain rights specified, for certain crimes.

    For example, once convicted of vote fraud, you shouldn't be allowed to vote or go anywhere near a polling place or handle election materials of any kind. For a period of, say, 20 years.

  4. I've an idea. No law which is malum prohibitum shall be a felony.

    I think I'd also change our system to allow for longer non-felony sentences than a year. The time limit on misdemeanors, I think, is why so many crimes are changed to felonies.

    I agree that once someone is deemed safe to be among us, they're safe to do anything someone who's never been convicted can. Parole being a time period where our convict proves that letting them out was the right decision.

  5. The approval of the felon voter initiative has me concerned for the 2020 election. The saying is that the road to the presidency goes through Florida. It is hard to get numbers but apparently this will add about 1 million voters to the rolls. Let's face it, most of these are Blacks who vote 90+% Democrat. You can be sure that the Democrats will put huge $$ and union troops to harvesting their ballots. Given how closely divided Florida has been, this seems like a game changer so no Republican will he able to win a statewide election in the future. Am I wrong?

    1. Am I wrong? We'll find out. Certainly your situation overview agrees with the way most people see the felon vote.

      A difference is that the amendment passed in Florida doesn't let felons vote while still in prison. It was to "automatically restore" voting rights to convicted felons who have served their sentence or were let out early, completed parole and other imposed milestones. The old situation was that they needed to apply to have their rights restored.

      Apparently it's not immediately clear if that has gone into effect, yet. See here.