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The Constitution & The Judicial Branch Discuss Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes at the Political Forums; Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes Two state leaders say they'll ask that the U.S. ...

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Old 01-07-2010, 03:22 AM
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Default Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

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Two state leaders say they'll ask that the U.S. Supreme Court review a federal court decision clearing the way for inmate voting in Washington.

Following Tuesday's decision by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel revoking the state prohibition on felon voting, Attorney General Rob McKenna and Secretary of State Sam Reed now say they'll ask the nation's highest court to review the decision.

The decision, hailed as a landmark win for prisoner-rights advocates, effectively removed the state's restrictions on felon voting on civil-rights grounds.

Under the Washington law at issue, citizens convicted of a felony lose the right to vote until they are released from custody and off of Department of Corrections supervision. The 2-1 ruling by a Circuit Court of Appeals panel put those restrictions in doubt, with the majority finding that the state restrictions unfairly penalize minorities.

In an announcement Wednesday afternoon, McKenna and Reed said they believe the issue is ripe for review by the Supreme Court, and that their agencies -- defendants in the lawsuit alongside the governor's office -- will ask for such a hearing. Objecting to the appeals court decision, both noted circuit courts elsewhere in the nation have come to the opposite conclusion while reviewing similar cases.

"This case began back in 1996, it's been to the 9th Circuit twice already and now it's time for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in to resolve the split between the federal courts of appeals that the 9th Circuit has created," McKenna said in a statement. "The felon disenfranchisement laws of Washington and 47 other states hang in the balance."

McKenna added that, should the Supreme Court accept the case, he intends to argue it himself.

Attorneys for six Washington state prisoners, Circuit Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote, "have demonstrated that police practices, searches, arrests, detention practices, and plea bargaining practices lead to a greater burden on minorities that cannot be explained in race-neutral ways."

Joined by Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the majority opinion, Tashima found no "race neutral" explanation for the higher incarceration rates and reversed a U.S. District Court decision in favor of the felons.

"Although (the state) criticized the experts' studies and the conclusions, the (plaintiffs') reports, when objectively viewed, support a finding of racial discrimination in Washington's criminal justice system," Tashima said in the ruling.

Writing in dissent, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Margaret McKeown said that the merits of the case should be heard at trial. Instead, her colleagues on the bench granted a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, effectively settling the case pending an appeal.

Echoing McKeown's contention, Reed said in a statement that prohibitions like Washington's are on the books across the nation.

"The U.S. Constitution, the Washington Constitution and the laws of 47 other states all agree that felons may lose this important civil right when they violate the rights of others by committing egregious violations of the law," Reed said in a statement. "I'm pleased the Attorney General will be taking this case to the U.S. Supreme Court and expect a positive outcome."

Arguing the case, attorneys for the prisoners turned to a series of studies conducted in Seattle and elsewhere in the state showing that racial minorities were charged with crimes at rates far higher than could be explained by differences in levels of criminal activity, said Lawrence A. Weiser, a Gonzaga University law professor involved with the case since the mid-1990s.

"The issue is discrimination in the criminal justice system," said Weiser, director of Gonzaga's clinical law program. "The fact is that the disenfranchisement law has always been used to disenfranchise minority communities."

Recent Department of Corrections figures show that about 28 percent of the state's prison population is African-American, according to statistics cited in the suit. In contrast, African-Americans account for about 3 percent of Washington's population.

A review of arrest records, the plaintiffs argued, showed that increased criminal behavior could not account for the disproportionately high incarceration rates among black Washingtonians.

"The disparities aren't reflective of the actual participation in crime," said Ryan Haygood, co-director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which participated in the suit. "They're reflective of the discrimination in the criminal justice system."

Speaking on the ruling Tuesday, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed said the court's decision came as a surprise, in part because three circuit court panels elsewhere in the country came to opposite conclusions while reviewing similar cases.

Reed said he believes the state prohibition against prisoner voting remains appropriate.

"That's part of the penalty," Reed said. "A person loses their rights when they violate the rights of others by perpetrating a felony. As long as when they get out they get a chance to rejoin society, that's the important part."

Reed said he supported a recent change in state law aimed at enabling felons returning to society to regain the vote. Under the new rules, felons no longer have to pay off their court-mandated fines before registering to vote.

Filed 14 years ago, the suit named Reed's office as a defendant, as well as the Attorney General's Office and the governor's office.

In a July 2006 ruling in favor of the state, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Whaley agreed that "evidence of racial bias in Washington's criminal justice system is compelling." Still, the Spokane judge ruled, that fact alone was not sufficient to sustain a challenge under the federal Voting Rights Act.

"Taking all of the relevant factors into account, the Court finds that the totality of the circumstances does not support a finding that Washington's felon disenfranchisement law results in discrimination in its electoral process on account of race," Whaley said in the decision now reversed by the U.S. Circuit Court panel.

Among the evidence offered to support the plaintiffs' claims was a recent study on drug arrests in Seattle. The 2004 study, conducted by University of Washington sociologist Katherine Beckett, found that blacks and Latinos were disproportionately arrested on drug charges in part because of a police emphasis on street dealing of crack cocaine.

According to her statements to the court, Beckett found that most drug users and drug dealers in the city are white. Still, 64 percent of those arrested dealing "serious" drugs were black; only 17 percent of those caught in police sting operations were white.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that Beckett's findings show that police have concentrated on outdoor drug sales areas frequented by minorities in the city's Pioneer Square and downtown neighborhoods. At the same time, the attorneys argued, city police neglected drug sales areas frequented by whites in Seattle's University District and Capitol Hill.

The state could have asked that an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals review the case, rather than the Supreme Court. Instead, attorneys for the state will be filing a petition within the next 90 days requesting the high court review the case.

In the meantime, the Attorney General's Office plans to file a motion to stay the mandate and allow the current system to remain in place until the appeal is resolved, a spokesperson said in a statement.

Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

I agree with Reed : "That's part of the penalty,A person loses their rights when they violate the rights of others by perpetrating a felony. As long as when they get out they get a chance to rejoin society, that's the important part"

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Old 01-07-2010, 06:50 AM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

Screw that!!! I see a new voying group! Further more, cative audiance (literally). Now we need to get the wardens behind it and make sure they are of the right political stripe. The whole plans is risky but I'm willing to try it if we can win some more elections.

Hey, here's an idea, I think that recently some ACORN employees got some time. Maybe they could earn a couple more bucks and start the registration process.

Another thought, here in Michigan the dems are passing a law that will allow anybody for any reason to register and vote online up to the day of the election. I'm sure that won't end in fraud. We need to combine the two concepts. That'll end well.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

What a concept ... inmates running the asylum.

What party would really want to pander to the felon vote? Would you really want to brag about being the party of murderers and rapists?



Another wacky ruling by the ultra liberal 9th. The SCOTUS shouldn't have to keep cleaning up their crap!
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:41 AM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

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A person loses their rights when they violate the rights of others by perpetrating a felony
Couldn't have said it better...
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:45 PM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

This isn't about criminals, it's about "minorities"

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"The issue is discrimination in the criminal justice system," said Weiser, director of Gonzaga's clinical law program. "The fact is that the disenfranchisement law has always been used to disenfranchise minority communities."
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

How would you like to be a lobbyist for this group? Gives new meaning to the term "prison bitch".
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

Folks, I think prison voting has a number of advantages to it, for which reason I am an ardent supporter:

1. 600, 000 prisoners are released back into American society on an annual basis. They need to be re-integrated into our society - including raising a family, forming relationships, getting education, obtaining a job, etc. Voting in elections is a valuable anchor into the real world and shows felons that they too have a stake in society.

2. We allow anti-Semites, Islamophobes, homophobes, racists, xenophobes, the ignorant, the politically apathetic, etc., to vote. Why then, should we disallow convicted felons the right to vote?

3. Even if you were right about convicted felons forfeiting their rights when they receive a custodial sentence, one has to realise that there are many factors leading to a custodial sentence. There are many punishments available to the judicial system - fines, suspended sentences, probation, community service, periodic detention etc. One jury may sentence a person to jail and another may exonerate them or give them a non-custodial sentence. Take Joe Horn, for instance, the Texan who killed two illegal immigrants robbing his neighbour's house in the back. He was cleared by a jury, although in most liberal US states and countries like the United Kingdom, he would have likely gone to jail on a manslaughter charge. As such, it should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

4. Decisions made by the government affect prisoners. Conjugal visits? Taxation on earnings while in prison? These are decisions that intimately affect the lives of prisoners and yet by denying them the right to vote, it denies them representation in the decisionmaking process. Governments can readily ignore prisoners' views because it does not affect them at the next election. This should not be the case.

5. Denying prisoners the right to vote does not fit any of the three purposes of imprisonment: deterrence, rehabilitation and punishment. Deterrence? It is unlikely that criminals are going to not commit a crime based solely on the fact they won't be able to vote. Rehabilitation? Not at all, in fact it'd probably be quite the reverse. Punishment? Well, considering that 70% of Americans don't even bother vote come federal election time, it is doubtful that the right to vote is something that is highly valued for most Americans. And as such taking that right away wouldn't be much of a punishment to most American citizens.
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:22 PM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

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Originally Posted by hussein View Post
Folks, I think prison voting has a number of advantages to it, for which reason I am an ardent supporter:

1. 600, 000 prisoners are released back into American society on an annual basis. They need to be re-integrated into our society - including raising a family, forming relationships, getting education, obtaining a job, etc. Voting in elections is a valuable anchor into the real world and shows felons that they too have a stake in society.
Not being allowed to vote in no way prevents them from engaging in any of those activities and if it really means that much to them is a good incentive FOR them to engage in such activities and THEN get their vote reinstated.

Quote:
2. We allow anti-Semites, Islamophobes, homophobes, racists, xenophobes, the ignorant, the politically apathetic, etc., to vote. Why then, should we disallow convicted felons the right to vote?
None of watch you listed is against the law....straw man.

Quote:
3. Even if you were right about convicted felons forfeiting their rights when they receive a custodial sentence
What do you mean if, your rights are suspended. You can not go where you want, do as you please, associate as you please, cannot keep and bear arms.
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There are many punishments available to the judicial system - fines, suspended sentences, probation, community service, periodic detention etc.
So what?


Quote:
One jury may sentence a person to jail and another may exonerate them or give them a non-custodial sentence.
That's why we use a jury of your peers.


[QUOTE]4. Decisions made by the government affect prisoners. Conjugal visits? Taxation on earnings while in prison? These are decisions that intimately affect the lives of prisoners and yet by denying them the right to vote, it denies them representation in the decisionmaking process.

And? They have demonstrated they were willing to act outside the law.


[QUOTE]5. Denying prisoners the right to vote does not fit any of the three purposes of imprisonment: deterrence, rehabilitation and punishment.

Yes it is a punishment, it is society telling those who operate outside the law that they will have no voice in that law until they do.
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:01 AM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

How did I just know hussein was once again going to show up in support of criminals?
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Old 01-08-2010, 02:49 PM
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Default Re: Prison voting headed to U.S. Supreme Court? State leaders say yes

That's unfair. I have called for justice for criminals many times:

Condeming William Calley for having served an abysmally short sentence for his heinous crimes during the Vietnam War and the American public and President Nixon for allowing this to pass:
http://www.politicalwrinkles.com/new...-massacre.html

Congratulating Saudi Arabia on arresting Al-Qaeda suspects: http://www.politicalwrinkles.com/war...a-arrests.html

Condemning and calling for the arrest of those who engaged in the gang rape of an innocent girl and those who looked on and laughed while it occurred: http://www.politicalwrinkles.com/new...os-joined.html
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