About a month ago he and several people who joined him, have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the many voters who are currently held in prisons on civil arrests or awaiting trial, and thus denied their right to vote. The Petition squarely puts the dilemma in front of the Supreme Court: in the U.S. only convicted felons cannot vote. A large number of non-felons among the prisons inmates have the right to vote, must be afforded the opportunity to vote, and provided access to the election campaign literature and TV programming. The Supreme Court has scheduled the Petition for a conference to be held on Oct-29, 2004.
A well-known New Jersey civil rights attorney, David Perry Davis, joined this week those concerned with the situation and wrote to the Warden of the Mercer County (New Jersey) Corrections Center, “So long as these inmates have no felony convictions, they must be given the opportunity to vote. Please let me know at your earliest possible convenience what provisions have been made to ensure that inmates are permitted to exercise their right to vote.”
Mr. Davis is also writing an urgent letter to the Attorney General of New Jersey.
With now only a few days left before the election, Mr. Weinstein’s petition asks the Supreme Court to issue the Writ ordering that all such inmates be brought before the courts to vote. In the alternative, The Petition asked the Supreme Court to issue an order directing amnesty either temporarily or permanently, thus securing for all non-felons their lawful right to vote. The numbers of people in the U.S. who, by law, are entitled to vote, yet do not vote because they are in prison is much greater than one might think.
At the end of 2002, Bureau of justice statistics reported that a record 2.l million people were in federal, state, or local custody. During the coming decade, approximately 600,000 inmates annually will be released from state and federal facilities. As of December 31, 2001, approximately 2.7 percent of the U.S. adult population – 5.6 million people – either were in prison or had been incarcerated at one time. That number is projected to increase to 7.7 million by 2010.
While the exact number of people who are denied their right to vote when in custody is not known, various estimations show that it is high enough to swing the election. Bruce Eden, a father’s rights activist in New Jersey says he recalls reading feminists literature some years ago, calling for a plan to eventually incarcerate a large portion of the U.S. male population, thus swinging the vote and public policy in the direction of the blueprint drawn by feminists ideologues.
According to Mr. Weinstein, a large chunk of the prison population in the U.S. is comprised of non-felons. The petition quotes the Sunday, September 12, 2004 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, which places the number of “bench warrants” to arrest parents, 90 percent of whom are fathers, at about 34,656 in New Jersey alone. Nationally, about 75 percent of the child support arrears are owed by parents below the poverty line, earning less than $10,000 a year. In certain areas of the country disproportionately affected by negative macroeconomic trends, the percentage is even higher; Thus in Michigan, about 90 percent of child support arrears money is owed by indigent parents. Many of these parents are “civilly / coercively incarcerated and / or are awaiting trial and have no convictions,” as the letter by David Perry Davis, Esq. states.
Copyright © Eric Ross, Ph.D., 2004.
Eric Ross, Ph.D
About the author: Dr. Eric Ross is a technology and management consultant and an adjunct professor in the North East.
He holds a Ph.D. in Information Sciences and MBA in Economics and Finance and is a member of the National Business Honor Society. He is a single parent, and an ardent researcher of economic and political “megatrends.” Being originally from the defunct Soviet “evil empire” and painfully familiar with the massive social injustices of the Stalin’s “justice” system, he is mindful of the dangers presented by the gradual erosion of the constitutional principals, protections and liberties in the United States.