CL – Allow freed felons a vote, not those still imprisoned

The Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman is full of convicted felons.

It also is full of voters.

Being convicted of a felony and even being in jail doesn’t necessarily remove one’s right to vote in Mississippi. It depends on what kind of felony.

State Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, made that point last week in his clarionledger.com blog and it is a matter that should be addressed by the Legislature before the next election.

Out of the 24,897 felons incarcerated in Mississippi state prisons, only 6,685, or 26 percent, could not vote. The other 18,212, or 73 percent, are eligible to vote and many do, according to Snowden.

Snowden is right. A person who commits a felony, especially those in jail, should forfeit the right to vote. At the same time, those who have completed sentences should be allowed to vote without having to go to the Legislature. Part of coming back to society is having civic responsibility to vote.

This is a logical compromise that should be supported by Republicans and Democrats. The proposal wouldn’t get many votes at Parchman, but alumni should endorse it.

It’s only fair.

Clarion-Ledger
8/31/9