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22 Berkeley La Raza L.J. 407 (2012)
The Violence of Voicelessness: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement on Recidivism

handle is hein.journals/berklarlj22 and id is 423 raw text is: THE VIOLENCE OF VOICELESSNESS:
THE IMPACT OF FELONY
DISENFRANCHISEMENT ON
RECIDIVISM
Guy Padraic Hamilton-Smith*
Matt Vogel**
I.       INTRODUCTION
No class of men can, without insulting their own nature, be content with any
deprivation of their rights.
In 2010, nearly 5.3 million American citizens were unable to vote because
2  ,3
of a collateral consequence ftrom a felony conviction known as disenfranchisement.
The political disenfranchisement of ex-felons is not accomplished through applying a
provision within the United States Constitution or of any federal statute, but is
instead administered at the discretion of state legislatures. In light of this state-by-
state approach, there is considerable variation in how disenfranchisement is imposed
throughout the country.5 The severity of disenfranchisement runs the gamut from
allowing incarcerated prisoners to vote (Maine and Vermont) to prohibiting voting
rights to those who complete their sentences.6 Even though disenfranchisement is a
consequence of a felony conviction, courts have generally considered it to be
* JD, May 2011, University of Kentucky. This author wishes to thank Professor Joshua Douglas of the
University of Kentucky College of Law for his support and guidance throughout the process of writing
this article as well as Associate Dean Mary Davis for her support of this project. This author also wishes
to thank co-author Matthew Vogel for his invaluable collaboration, assistance, and insight into this topic.
Finally, this author also wishes to thank the members of the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal for their
excellent work throughout the editing process.
** PhD Candidate, SUNY at Albany, Department of Sociology & Research Scientist, Center for Human
Services Research. This author would like to thank Ryan D. King for his invaluable feedback on earlier
drafts of this article.
1. Frederick Douglass, Speech at Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society Meeting (1865).
2. The term collateral consequence refers to an effect of a criminal conviction that is
separate and apart from the sentence imposed by a judge. Examples of collateral consequences include
losing the right to possess a firearm, losing federal educational financial aid, and as this article addresses,
losing the right to vote.
3. THE SENTENCING PROJECT, FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES
(2010),               http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/fd bs fdlawsinusDecl 1.pdf
(Disenfranchisement refers to the ability and process of states to remove the voting rights of individuals
convicted of serious criminal offenses).
4. Id. (Discussion of policy differences between states as a result of activity at the level of
state legislatures).
5. Id.
6. THE SENTENCING PROJECT, supra note 3.

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