Voting Among Entitled Prisoners is Up

Two states, Vermont and Maine, allow felons to vote even while serving their sentences. This year, voting numbers are up among the inmates:

"There's almost a childlike excitement here," said Kirk Wool, 44, one of the Vermonters in Kentucky, who is serving 29 to 73 years for a sexual assault conviction, and said he "hadn't begun voting until actually after my incarceration."

But now Mr. Wool, inmate No. 263524, says he feels so empowered by voting that "if I had chosen politics instead of crime, call it arrogance, but I believe with my ability to touch people, my ability to speak, I believe I very well could have been governor of the state of Vermont."

Not surprisingly, those inmates who are interested in their Government, are quite well versed on the issues. As the article notes, they have a lot of time on their hands.

Inmates pay attention, reading newspapers, watching television, and even perusing campaign leaflets that are mailed to registered voters like themselves.

One of the prisoners interviewed, who is serving a 35 year sentence for murdering two of his friends, explains why he voted for Bush. Apparently, this is not that unusual. The authors conducted a number of interviews and found more than a few conservatives among the inmates.

Some of the prisoners have the same concerns as those on the outside:

"I don't think much about the economy because I'm in prison, you know what I mean?" said Mr. Karov, 60, from the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, Vt. But Mr. Karov says that he considers issues like "how big this deficit is getting" and that "I have a son that's 20 years old and I don't want to see him ending up in Iraq."

He was "thinking of a protest vote for Nader or a write-in for one of the dead presidents," but has changed his mind. "I didn't want to waste my vote," he said. "I voted for Kerry reluctantly."

Voting rights can also have a positive impact on the prisoners' self-esteem:

And the dignity of being allowed to vote means a lot, Mr. Wool said. "When I register for my absentee ballot, I get a slew of brochures," he said. "You see yourself in this little cell and yet these people with all this power and freedom are reaching out to you, too. It gives me hope, it really does."

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