I keep looking for something positive to say about those “poor little lambs who have lost their way,” aka Republicans, and I think I’ve finally found one: They’re resourceful.
Recently, a supermajority of voters in Florida, a problematic state to say the least, amended the state constitution to restore voting rights to hundreds of thousands of convicted felons who had automatically lost that right, for life, upon conviction. Under the amended provision, voting rights would be restored upon the felon’s release from prison.
Statistics show that as of 2016, 10.4% of Florida’s would-be voters had been disenfranchised by the constitutional provision in effect at that time. Current estimates are that up to 1.5 million people are affected, including approximately 20% of potential African-American voters.
Think for a moment about the potential import of this disenfranchisement. For example …
What if those disenfranchised citizens had been able to cast ballots? You can see where we’re going here.
Now, the Florida legislature, dominated by Republicans, is taking steps to curtail voting by the newly enfranchised by requiring that they not be allowed to vote until they have paid all court costs, fines, or fees incurred in the course of their conviction. At first blush, this might sound reasonable. Au contraire, my friend.
Florida, it turns out, has a system some call “cash-register justice.” In addition to fines related to their offense, sometimes reaching as much as half a million dollars, defendants are charged fees which subsidize courts, county governments, police departments, and investigators. More costs are incurred if they apply for a public defender, receive medical treatment in prison, reinstate a suspended driver’s license, participate in drug abuse treatment, are housed in a halfway house while on probation, or require electronic monitoring or urinalysis. (Source: Slate.com)
As I said, the GOP is resourceful. In fact, they excel at finding back-door ways to thwart the will of the populace. Democracy is clearly not a form of government they support.
Newly freed, how many stigmatized felons will be able to buy their way into the world most of us take for granted? What would happen if, instead of throwing up hurdles, Florida offered re-entry education, job placement, counseling, or other programs to inmates returning to a world which may have change mightily during their incarceration? What would happen if participation in those programs provided a write-off or forgiveness of the outrageous fees? What if Florida reformed its system of “cash-register justice?” Why throw more hurdles up against those already struggling? Is that the Republican way? Sadly, it looks as though it is.
The Republican Way: Hit 'Em While They're Down _______________________________________________________________
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Thoughts for Our Time
“Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future.”