Back in October of 2002 - yes 2002! - I wrote an article for The Key West Citizen entitled, "When is time served still a life sentence? - When you still cannot vote." Here's an excerpt: ...In 32 states, convicted offenders may not vote while they are on parole and 29 of these states disenfranchise offenders on probation. In 14 states, ex-offenders who have fully served their sentences nonetheless can be disenfranchised for life unless they apply for their rights through a gubernatorial pardon or other cumbersome and often ill-administered procedure. Only Maine and Vermont have no restrictions on voting rights for felons. When you fail to return a person's right to contribute to democracy when you return them to society, you send them back as half a citizen, devalued and diminished. I have to believe that there is definitely a link between the high recidivism rate and this policy of disenfranchisement. What is disturbing about this issue is the substantial number of potential voters it affects in minority communities. The Sentencing Project reports that an estimated 1.4 million African-American men, or 13 percent of the Black adult male population, are disenfranchised, a rate of disenfranchisement that is seven times the national average. More than one-third (36 percent) of the total disenfranchised population are black men. An observation by Joseph Hayden, a former felon who is now director of the New Leadership Policy Center Association For Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Inc. in New York puts these staggering statistics into a perspective that members of the minority community, in particular, cannot and should not ignore. He said "1.4 million black men with voting ballots are far more dangerous than 1.4 million black men with guns." Five years later the statistics are still staggering. If you don't believe me, check out The Sentencing Project's July 2007 report entitled, "Uneven Justice: State Rates of Incarceration By Race and Ethnicity" by Marc Mauer and Ryan S. King. If it were only about right and wrong, somebody should have told Messrs. Mauer and King that.