Editorial: Prison voting is Sanders’ slippery slope | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Prison voting is Sanders’ slippery slope


The slope’s not that slippery, Bernie.

Both the federal and Pennsylvania governments are making admirable progress in criminal justice reform.

They are finding new ways to structure sentences. They’re changing mandatory minimums. They’re giving people who have served their sentences Clean Slate laws that make it easier to not just get back to the straight and narrow, but to stay on that path.

They are making it so you don’t have to check a box on a job application that says “Yes, I was in jail,” and in a show of putting money where your mouth is, Pennsylvania proved it was all in by hiring Brandon Flood, a former legislative aide who did time for drug and weapons violations to serve as the secretary of the state Board of Pardons. Who better to understand the people applying for clemency than someone who was pardoned just weeks earlier?

But U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a Democratic presidential town hall aired on CNN that he is in favor of voting for felons. No, not the restoration of voting rights for someone who has done their time and been successfully returned to the community. He advocates voting for those still incarcerated, no matter the crime.

The candidate for the White House in 2020 made it clear that he supported voting “even for terrible people,” and that deciding which crimes should preclude that is a slippery slope.

It really isn’t. While convicted criminals still have civil rights, they don’t have freedoms that have been surrendered during the term of incarceration. Voting is one of those.

America is struggling with getting people to the polls. Where some countries have holidays for elections and people pack the streets for the opportunity to have their say, Americans can be apathetic about it. Young people aren’t motivated. If your party is likely to win, you’re less likely to show up.

And then there are the roadblocks for people who do want to vote. Your polling place might be too crowded. Your state may have tossed your registration for suspect reasons. There are lots of things that come between a voter and a ballot. We should be working to put ballots in their hands, not in a cell block.

Let’s motivate people to become involved members of their communities when they get out of prison. Hold a job. Be a good citizen. Volunteer. Vote.

But not during the term of the sentence. That’s the slippery slope.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.