Public Opinion and Felon Disenfranchisement

Jeff Manza, Christopher Uggen and Clem Brooks

in Locked Out

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780195149326
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943975 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Crime and Public Policy

Public Opinion and Felon Disenfranchisement

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This chapter examines public attitudes toward disenfranchisement. It shows that there is little public support for stripping the right to vote from all people convicted of felonies. Instead, the public appears to view disenfranchisement as a harsh penalty in a democratic society with universal suffrage. The public endorses disenfranchisement for current prisoners, but “draws the line” at the prison gates. Strong public support for other political rights for criminal offenders is also noteworthy, including the right to speak freely even on controversial topics relating to the criminal justice system. This provides evidence for a degree of real depth in democratic sentiments among the American public.

Keywords: public attitudes; disenfranchised felons; right to vote; political rights; criminal offenders

Chapter.  4262 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Theory

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