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CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees

by TChris

Colorado permits felons to vote after they finish serving a sentence. Because parole did not exist when the Colorado Constitution was enacted, the ACLU argued that a sentence ends (for voting purposes) when a felon is released from prison on parole. In a decision released today, the Colorado Supreme Court disagreed.

''Of course we agree with Danielson that parole did not exist at the time Colorado adopted its constitution, but this does not mean that the General Assembly was constrained from punishing crimes with sentences that include custody while the convicted person is being transitioned to community and before restoration of his or her full rights,'' the ruling said.

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  • Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 09:12:30 AM EST
    Of course the state could resolve the issue by eliminating parole.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#2)
    by Patrick on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 09:30:15 AM EST
    Right, or eliminating prison sentences..Heck why not just legalize everything, then everyone can vote.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#3)
    by Johnny on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 10:14:07 AM EST
    Right, or eliminating prison sentences..Heck why not just legalize everything, then everyone can vote.
    That is nowhere near what anyone has proposed Patrick.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#4)
    by Gabriel Malor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 10:24:57 AM EST
    Of course the state could resolve the issue by eliminating parole.
    I'm hoping that was tongue-in-cheek. Parole serves (at least theoretically) a useful purpose for law enforcement, DAs, and the prisons. Eliminating it would require building or expanding prisons or reducing sentences. Neither option is desirable.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 10:40:38 AM EST
    Eliminating it would require building or expanding prisons or reducing sentences. Neither option is desirable
    Given that America has the highest inmate per capita in the developed world I think that not everyone would share these views.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 10:43:45 AM EST
    Eliminating it would require building or expanding prisons or reducing sentences. Neither option is desirable.
    I strongly agree. One only has to look at the Federal prison system to see the damaging affects of eliminating parole.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#7)
    by Patrick on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:00:46 AM EST
    That is nowhere near what anyone has proposed Patrick.
    Johnny, Of course it's not, it was sarcasm. And directed at what I think is a bad idea...Eliminating parole. I'll type slower next time, and you lighten up a bit eh?

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:07:11 AM EST
    I am no lawer but doesnt the 'no taxation without representation' idea apply here. If you cant vote you should not be taxed. Much Love

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:08:00 AM EST
    Parole is just supervised release. Parole is a replacement for incarceration. If you take away parole, your going to increase the incarcerated population as convicts serve out their entire sentences in jail rather than ending on supervised release.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#10)
    by Patrick on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:44:57 AM EST
    If you cant vote you should not be taxed.
    Can't we at least tax their disability or welfare?

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#11)
    by roy on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 12:10:39 PM EST
    I am no lawer but doesnt the 'no taxation without representation' idea apply here.
    A) Slogans are not legally binding; otherwise "make love, not war" would've been a lot more effective. B) Aliens, minor citizens, and non-citizen overseas trading partners all pay US taxes but can't vote. Nobody seems worried. Conversely, some very rich or very poor citizens don't pay taxes, but we don't strip their voting rights. In other words, there's no real connection between taxation and voting. As for this specific case... the ACLU was really reaching on this one. What's more important, restoring felons' right to vote sooner, or having rational and consistent meaning in the constitution(s)?

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#12)
    by Johnny on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 12:17:04 PM EST
    Don't worry about typing slower Patrick, we can keep up. As far as "lightening up" goes, I will not on this issue. We have hundreds of thousands of people who have been incarcerated for smoking marijuana... Permanently disenfranchised. They cannot vote. The drug war is slowly removing persons who would vote for the legalization/decriminalization of marijuana. This is bad. I firmly believe that the removal of voting rights is unconstitutional, but not a single politician will touch this issue with a ten-foot pole. Not while people sit around and yell "CRIMINAL LOVER!!!!!!!!!!!" everytime someone suggests we are too hard on people. I really do not see why voting rights, a constitutionally guaranteed right, should not be re-instated after sentence is served. I know the rich, white power structure is scared of all the people they mistreated while they were locked up, but that is no excuse.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#14)
    by Patrick on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 12:24:08 PM EST
    We have hundreds of thousands of people who have been incarcerated for smoking marijuana... Permanently disenfranchised.
    Link please? That seems kinda high for (since we're in the context of felons and voting rights) simply smoking marijuana. Incarceration in this context connotes prison.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#15)
    by Patrick on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 12:27:21 PM EST
    Johnny, And does Colorado offer an avenue where persons can get their rights back? If so, then if it's important enough to them, they will go through the steps, you need not take up arms on their behalf.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#16)
    by roy on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 01:06:06 PM EST
    Johnny,
    I firmly believe that the removal of voting rights is unconstitutional...
    What basis do you have for that? The US constitution doesn't have much to say about it; barring restrictions there, the states get to decide. There's a short list of reason's why states can't deny voting rights: race (15th Amendment), sex (19th), poll taxes (24th), and age(26th). Criminal record isn't on the list. The CO constitution says people in prison can't vote until pardoned or "having served out his full term of imprisonment".
    We have hundreds of thousands of people who have been incarcerated for smoking marijuana... Permanently disenfranchised.
    Not permanent in most states, even assuming it's a felony conviction with prison time. Most restore the right automatically, eventually. Read up here (wikipedia -- unreliable, but consistent with other sources on this topic).
    I really do not see why voting rights, a constitutionally guaranteed right, should not be re-instated after sentence is served.
    I agree; so do most legislatures.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#17)
    by Johnny on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 07:14:18 PM EST
    Roy, the 13th and 15th guarantee that taking voting privelages in the first place is illegal. To wit:
    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
    Which ties closely with:
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
    A matter of semantics perhaps... Irregardless,reinstatement should be painless and seamless. Registration should not be mandatory upon completion of sentence. It is not mandatory for you, and it is not mandatory for me. Reinstatement of all rights associated with free persons should be automatic and assumed upon completion of the sentence.
    And does Colorado offer an avenue where persons can get their rights back? If so, then if it's important enough to them, they will go through the steps, you need not take up arms on their behalf.
    LOL see above.

    Re: CO Court Denies Voting Rights to Parolees (none / 0) (#18)
    by JSN on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 05:33:03 PM EST
    I was at a meeting that was attended by about twenty to thirty female parolees who by the way had requested and had been given permission to associate with other felons by the Iowa Parole Board. When the issue of reinstatement of voting rights came up there was a strong eruption. A PO had told one of the women that she could not apply for reinstatement without permission. The District Director of Community Based Corrections had to stand up and say it was not true in the presence of about six of his staff who thought it was true. Later I talked to POs from another district and they all thought the same thing. The point became moot when Gov. Vilsack restored voting rights to felons by executive order.