:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Saturday, January 31, 2004  

Go straight to jail, do not pass GO, do not ever vote again

The big news: The nation's first ever class action lawsuit filed against a state (NJ) for prohibiting ex-cons from voting while they're on probation or parole.

The thinking: an overwhelming majority of ex-cons are black or Latino, so the law is a violation of NJ's constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

The groups involved: NJ chapter of the NAACP, the Latino Leadership Alliance, two Elizabeth City Council members, and 10 ex-cons on behalf of themselves and others (I don't know what I'd do with myself if I was an ex-con and couldn't vote Bush out of office -- it would be horrific!)

Some striking facts from the article: "The complaint filed against the state of New Jersey asserts that while African Americans and Hispanics comprise about 30 percent of the total population in New Jersey, they account for more than 75 percent of the parolee population and over 52 percent of those on probation.

According to Frank Askin, Director of the Rutgers Constitutional Clinic and one of the lead attorneys for the case, laws on voting rights for ex-convicts vary widely throughout the nation. Seventeen states, mostly in the South, bar those convicted of serious offenses for voting for life. Sixteen others, plus Washington, D.C., allow an ex-convict to vote as soon as he or she is released from custody. Vermont and Maine even allow jailed felons to vote from behind bars, he said."

posted by Anjali Taneja | 1/31/2004 11:32:00 PM | |


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