Letters in Baltimore Sun Responding to my Op-ed piece on Letting Felons Voting

An op-ed that I had in the Baltimore Sun has produced several letters criticizing it (see here).

Here are a couple of the arguments and responses:

First, Mr. Lott argues that those in favor of extending the vote to ex-offenders want to "make it easier for convicted murderers, rapists, armed robbers and other violent criminals to vote."

In fact, most people who are in prison and then leave are not violent felony offenders; rather, their crimes usually involve drugs or property offenses.

Fine, then restore voting rights for the crimes that supporters think are reasonable. Don't make it apply to murders and child molesters.

Mr. Lott doesn't want ex-offenders in Maryland to vote because it would enable them to influence state and local budgets, and violent ex-offenders would presumably try to cut funding for police protection and social programs, such as those that assist rape victims.

But is there any evidence that this happens in the overwhelming majority of states that treat ex-offenders less harshly than Maryland?

Moreover, where does this leave most ex-offenders, who were not convicted of a violent crime?

Finally, Mr. Lott says most ex-offenders care more about getting good jobs than being allowed to vote.

So do most people, I suspect, but why does that matter? Why should doing one preclude doing the other?

1) We know that felons behave much differently than other citizens (they committed violent felonies against their fellow citizens) and we know that they vote much differently than other citizens. What evidence does this author have that they do not behave differently?

2) Democrats may claim that they are pushing these legal changes because of their concern for felons, but the reference to good jobs was made because those pushing for felon voting rights seem much more concerned with voting rights to get more Democratic votes than they do with doing those things that the felons view as most important to them. While there are supposedly no difference between felons and non-felons after felons have been released from prison, there are many jobs that it is reasonable to exclude felons from voting because they have indicated that they are not very trustworthy. They have shown that they do not value the same things as non-felons. Possibly you want to treat first time felons differently than second time felons (and some states do that), but the laws being pushed by the Democrats make no such distinctions. At least with second time felons there is even more certainty that these felons are different than other Americans.

The vast majority of felons are not violent, and the last thing we should worry about is which way they might vote.

Rather, the No. 1 priority should be public safety and getting former offenders into the mainstream and abiding by the laws and paying taxes.

All these writers seem to believe that after felons are released from prison they should not be punished in additional way. OK, do any of them support letting ex-felons get their rights to own guns back? Why not? Not one of the letters mention this point, though I raised it in my piece.

It is surprising to me that Democrats do not seem to be facing more of a political cost for pushing these changes in laws.


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