Turning the Tables – State’s Lifelong Voting Ban OVERTURNED

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(RestoreAmericanGlory.com) – A three-judge appeals court panel overturned a 19th-century law after determining that the lifetime voting ban in Mississippi for those convicted of specific felonies was unconstitutional. In a 2-1 decision, the panel decided that the ban was a “cruel” punishment.

As they wrote in the ruling, over the last five decades, it has been established by state legislatures that they do not believe in “permanently disenfranchising” those who have served their sentences as imposed by the court. As they point out, Mississippi is the only state in which this is occurring, whereas in the rest of the United States, the trend is leaning the other way.

Previously, under Mississippi law, anyone who had convictions for arson, bigamy, bribery, forgery, embezzlement, or perjury and had served their sentence did not have their voting rights reinstated. According to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization, Mississippi had the strictest disenfranchisement laws in the country, and they affected 11 percent of voters who would have been eligible to vote elsewhere.

The opinion notes that this practice does not have a “legitimate penological purpose.” They add that cutting off former offenders from being allowed to engage in politics for the rest of their lives means that they are never going to be able to be completely rehabilitated.

The state’s disenfranchisement law was passed in 1890 and was a part of Jim Crow’s early provisions that sought to restrict Black residents’ rights.

Jon Youngwood, the attorney who argued the case, stated that the voting right was a pillar of a functioning democracy and that this decision was a big victory for those Mississippians who have served their sentence and who should be allowed to be a part of the political process.

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