Should Criminals Have the Right to Vote?
by Marion Lequient on February 15, 2014 - 5:46pm
When navigating on the NY Times’ website, I found an editorial about the measures the US government have taken to deny criminals the right to vote, even after they have paid their debt to society. I was drawn to this issue, because I find that preventing 7% of the population from voting is, in a certain way, anti-democratic. Furthermore, I believe in rehabilitation of criminals, and I think that keeping fundamental rights from them such as voting does not help them reintegrate society. Should criminals that have paid their debt to society have the right to vote?
Some argue that some crimes cannot be overlooked or forgotten. That we must think of the victims or the damages engendered by these acts. They could also say that voting is a privilege rather than a right. That we have to be worthy of the rest of our society to be given this right to vote.
I think that voting is a fundamental right. In a democratic society, everyone is supposed to have a voice. We shouldn’t have to prove our worthiness to obtain this right. Of course, I agree that a criminal that has just committed a crime must be punished and undergo certain consequences. But once this individual is released from his sentence, there are some fundamental rights that must be returned to him. There is no point to letting this individual aside, and we even have to encourage this person’s engagement in his community. Additionally, we cannot cry over the dead for too long. Maybe criminals have destroyed other people’s lives, but punishing them eternally will never change the victim’s fate. I find this kind of thinking counterproductive.
Do you believe in the rehabilitation of criminals? Do you think that a past crime is a good reason to deny the right to an individual to engage in their society’s political life? Are criminals part of our society or should we see them as a separate category of people?