Essay on Why Should Felons Be Allowed to Vote

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According to Martin Luther King Jr. “No nation can long continue to flourish or to find its way to a better society while it allows any one of its citizens to be denied the right to participate in the most fundamental of all privileges-the right to vote”. A prisoner, who is also referred to as an inmate, is anyone who is deprived of liberty against their will and can be lawfully confined or unlawfully confined (Justice and peace commission, 2011). The right to vote is universal and equal, it is the right of every citizen that has reached 18 years of age to vote and be elected regardless of class, ethnicity, race, economic or other affiliation (voting Rights). Prisoners should be allowed to vote because they are still considered to be citizens of the country in addition, if this right is taken away it dehumanizes these individuals.

Prisoners are still considered to be citizens of a country and as such should be given the right to vote. Is an act against the law whether unwillingly or unwillingly grounds to revoke citizenship? While prisoners can lose certain luxuries of freedom, it does not mean that they are no longer citizens. As voting is a basic right of all citizens in a country, prisoners should be allowed to vote. According to (Duff, 2014) a convicted offender does not lose their citizenship as committing a crime is not an exercise of citizenship and hence should not be prevented from accessing their basic right- the right to vote. It is written in the constitution that it is the right of every citizen of Jamaica to be registered to vote (The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom- Constitutional Amendment- Act, 2011). Why then should prisoners not be allowed to vote, they are citizens, and all citizens have the right to vote.

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If the basic right to vote is taken away from prisoners, it dehumanizes them and hence they should be allowed the right to vote. Prison should not only be seen as the place where “bad people get locked up”, it should also be viewed as a place for rehabilitation. When prisoners are treated as less than humans it hinders their rehabilitation process. It seems as if prisoners become another species other than humans. Discarding the prisoners from society limits their potential to rise above the ashes of their broken lives, hence they cannot better themselves for re-admission into society (Golding, 2018). Why not use the prison to teach these individuals humility and responsibility, and help them to make positive and thoughtful choices starting with giving them an opportunity to vote?

Despite evidence to the contrary, there are some who believe that prisoners should not be given the right to vote because once an individual breaks the law they are stripped of all their rights. It is believed that if one breaks the law, they no longer have the right to be a part of any policy or law-making (Clegg & Spakovsky, 2018). So, therefore, if a person is caught stealing a remote and is unfortunately given a prison sentence for ‘breaking’ the law, he then should not vote. Another claim is that the main point of a prison sentence is to show the offender and society as a whole that criminal behavior results in the loss of freedom and most of the rights that freedom offers (Aitken, 2006).

The view that prisoners should not be allowed to vote is rigid and partial for the following reasons: Denying prisoners the right to vote does not protect the public and is therefore an unwarranted infringement upon the human rights of prisoners (Should prisoners be allowed to vote, 2011). If a person who is in prison casts a vote he/she does not cause any harm to any person. It is not like they robbed a bank or shot a person in the foot. Being able to vote is a harmless act and so prisoners should not be denied the such right. Many persons believe that some acts of violence deserve punishment by death, but he who is without sin cast the first stone. Being locked away, and having luxury pleasures taken away from them is enough punishment for prisoners. Prisoners are not the only ones who will vote in an election, why not give them a chance to make at least one good decision?

The facts have been clearly stated, prisoners should be allowed the right to vote. Being in prison does not take away from the fact that those individuals are still citizens and hence should be awarded such a basic right. If a person should vote from inside a prison it will bring no harm to the outside world and therefore should not be denied such a right. If a person can argue that prisoners should be kept locked away and stripped of any and all rights and basic privileges how then, can they be rehabilitated and have any chance of re-entering society? Give them chance to vote and see it do more good than harm.

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Essay on Why Should Felons Be Allowed to Vote. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
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