Barack Obama is making some interesting news as he enters the final 18 months of his presidency.
As a student at Harvard, he was editor of the Law Review, and he seems to be playing judge and jury in Bill Cosby’s case. Asked to comment on the revelation that Cosby admitted to drugging women in order to have sex with them, Obama basically said “Sounds like rape to me”.
Then the president toured a federal prison in Oklahoma, and said maybe it’s time to do something about the size and nature of the prison population in his country.
It almost sounded as though it was news to the president that 2.4 million Americans are now behind bars. Many of them are young people who were put away for offenses that would not have resulted in a prison sentence until recent years.
When Americans go the polls in November of 2016 to choose Obama’s successor, almost none of those 2.4 million folks will have a say in who gets the job. Only in Maine and Vermont are inmates allowed to vote in elections. In all other states, there are no ballot boxes behind the walls. In many states, former prisoners must wait several years before they’re allowed to vote.
All in all, the number of Americans who won’t be allowed to vote next year because they are convicted felons is more than eight million.
Here in Canada, provincial and local elections are a bit of a mixed picture when it comes to voting by prisoners. But inmates have had the right to cast ballots in federal elections since a Supreme Court ruling in 2002. The Harper government’s Fair Elections Act makes it harder for many Canadians to vote. Everybody now has to have an address which is almost impossible for those who are homeless.
But the legislation does nothing that would make it more difficult for monsters like Paul Bernardo to vote.
Who says life is fair ?
I’m Roger Currie