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Picture Uggen and Manza, Democratic Contraction? Peter Wagner Jim Crow in Massachusetts

With an election on the horizon, (after all Primaries start next month) it might just be an apposite moment to consider the unspoken scandal of the disenfranchisement of prisoners in America.  And, as these prisoners are disproportionately African Americans, it is a scandal which could be seen as a racial disenfranchisement issue.  I did a previous post on the exploitation of the labour of interned prisoners in PrisonsAmerica’s Greatest Slave Plantations” and now it seems that not only do they screw the prisoner for his work with no remuneration, they will also make sure he will never vote again.

The map above is from an interesting book “Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy” by Jeff Manza, and Chris Uggan, where they discuss the implication of state laws that bars felons from the ballot box  What is interesting is how the different states deal with the democratic rights of their prisoners.  The colours show that some states have no restrictions whatever- even when the felon is presently in prison.  Others only restrict whilst the prisoner is serving his sentence, whilst a disturbingly large number restrict the right to vote even after release. Interesting to note which states those are?

The result is that some 5,000,000 Americans are prohibited from taking any part in the democratic process, and as most are African Americans this falls proportionately on this sector of the population.

The map is drawn from figures in 2000.  If anything matters will be worse today as the graph showing the numbers of African American prisoners illustrates.

Copyright David Macadam 2011