One of 10 Adults in Mississippi Can’t Vote Due to Felony Disenfranchisement
Date:  02-20-2018

Across America 6.1 million can’t vote for the same reason
From The Sentencing Project:

State felony disenfranchisement laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia prevent 6.1 million American citizens from voting for a specified period of time because of their criminal record.1) In Mississippi, 9.63% of citizens in the state are disenfranchised, or nearly 1 of every 10 adults. This rate is more than triple the national rate of disenfranchisement (2.47%), which affects 1 of every 40 American adults.

Mississippi is one of only 12 states where individuals may be disenfranchised while incarcerated, under criminal justice supervision outside of prison, or permanently in many cases. Restrictions on voting after completion of sentence apply to Mississippi residents convicted of disqualifying offenses outlined in the state constitution including: murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement or bigamy.2) Today, there are 22 crimes3) that disenfranchise Mississippi residents from voting. In 2005, the Mississippi Attorney General added 11 new disfranchising crimes.4)

Overall, an estimated 218,181 people in Mississippi were disenfranchised as of 2016. Of this total, only 7 percent are incarcerated. The remaining 93 percent are living in the community either under probation or parole supervision, or have completed their criminal sentence. The number of African American residents disenfranchised in Mississippi numbered 127,130 in 2016 or nearly 16% of the black electorate.

Nationally, more than three-quarters of the 6.1 million disenfranchised citizens are not incarcerated, but are living in the community under felony probation or parole supervision, or have completed their sentences. The scale of disenfranchisement has risen dramatically along with the expansion of the criminal justice system since the 1970s. In 1976 an estimated 1.2 million people were disenfranchised.

History of Disenfranchisement

While felony disenfranchisement dates back to the time of the founding of the nation, it has undergone many changes over the past two centuries. The original states adopted disenfranchisement as a holdover from the Colonial period, and did so as they granted the right to vote to wealthy white male property holders. Following the Civil War a number of Southern states tailored their disenfranchisement policies with the intent of disenfranchising black males who had recently gained the right to vote. These actions came about at the same time states were adopting poll taxes and literacy requirements. In a number of Southern states, including Mississippi, voting restrictions were adopted based on prevailing perceptions of the racial composition of particular offense categories. Crimes believed to be committed primarily by blacks would lead to disenfranchisement, while offenses identified with whites would not. Thus, political leaders in Mississippi called for disenfranchisement for offenses such as burglary, theft, and arson, but not for robbery or murder.5)

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