Recently, a few Democratic presidential candidates appeared on TV to comment on their policies. When it was Bernie Sanders’ turn, Chris Cuomo asked if it was true that he felt jail and prison inmates should be allowed to vote. Bernie said he felt that inmates forfeited their freedom but not their rights.
Chris asked if his belief included the Boston marathon bomber. Bernie said that inmates had rights as citizens. The Boston Marathon bomber was originally a Chechen and, to be honest, I was not aware that he was a U.S. citizen. Before the marathon, John McCain had faulted Putin for being harsh with Chechens but Russia has been dealing with terrorists constantly and Chechens have been brutal. After the marathon, I heard no sympathy for Chechens.
The next two candidates on TV were asked if the Boston bomber should be allowed to vote. Kamala Harris said we would have to talk about it. Buttegeig said absolutely not.
We recently had an amendment in Florida to allow felons who had completed their time and paid their debt to society to vote.
Certain felons, such as murderers, were excepted from the amendment. Terrorists weren’t mentioned but I assume they would be excepted. I don’t know if allowing inmates to vote would get through Congress and I can’t see our private prisons complying with it. I recall that we had voting rights in the Army, but since there was very little access to political news in the ’40s and ’50s, many didn’t vote.
I am sure that Bernie didn’t have terrorists in mind when he thought about inmates rights. He thought about the thousands of people serving for years on drug charges and similar things. I recently saw a gut-wrenching report on an over crowded facility. People who weren’t even sentenced were locked up because they couldn’t afford bail. it seemed like a throwback to the old debtors prisons.
Bernie thought about people like those suffering. One person was in that facility for allegedly stealing a backpack. TV personalities referring to inmates rights as terrorists voting seem to be deliberately making Bernie look foolish and it has no connection to reality.
Mary B. Gregory