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These People Have Been Barred From Voting Today Because They're in Debt

Society & Culture  (tags: voting, ex-cons, fees, debt, suffrage )

- 737 days ago -
In 30 states, ex-offenders who still owe fines or fees have their voting rights restricted.


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Animae C (507)
Tuesday November 8, 2016, 7:07 pm

Carol H (40)
Tuesday November 8, 2016, 9:36 pm
Alabama is one of 30 states that restrict the voting rights of those who owe debts from their involvement in the criminal justice system. An estimated 10 million Americans owe $50 billion in such debt.

Since 2010, 48 states have increased criminal and court fees. In most states, individuals convicted of traffic offenses, misdemeanors and felonies can be charged for government services that used to be free. They can be billed for a public defender’s services, even if they’re indigent (Florida); they can be charged when booked into jail (Washington); charged a hotel-like nightly fee during their incarceration (Michigan); billed for violating parole or probation (Oregon); for the costs of their parole or probation (New York); and for monitoring technology such as electronic ankle bracelets, ignition locks or GPS monitoring. In some states, parents can be billed for every night their minor child is in juvenile detention, or for medical treatment or counseling their child receives (California).

Each state has its own setup: Fees and surcharges fund elections (Arizona) and transportation (Delaware), among other things. States charge fees to fund building and operating prisons (Arizona); courtroom security (California); and salaries of judges and prosecutors (Mississippi).

If someone can’t pay, they may wind up on the hook for interest (12 percent in Washington and Alabama, 5.5 percent in Nevada), additional surcharges for nonpayment (Michigan) or debt collection fees (Missouri).

Withholding voting rights because of debt tells those with a criminal history: You don’t get a say. It means that, after having otherwise paid their debt to society, individuals with previous convictions are cut off from civic engagement. And when regaining this right is tied to paying — in full — the frequently onerous debt that accompanies a conviction, voting restrictions hit low-income communities and communities of color hardest.


Darren Woolsey (218)
Wednesday November 9, 2016, 12:46 am
Shared to spread awareness.

steve F (23)
Wednesday November 9, 2016, 3:44 am
bad policy

MmAway M (516)
Wednesday November 9, 2016, 4:04 pm
Thank you Freya...I was reading the LEAD and thought Dang I'm in DEBT...but not in PRISON yet!

Danuta W (1251)
Thursday November 10, 2016, 4:00 am
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