Welcome to the 21st Century Version of Jim Crow

Inmates in a Orleans Parish Prison yardBy: Bart Everson
Six million disenfranchised citizens; voter identification laws that disproportionally affect minorities and the poor; moving polling stations, reducing early voting days, and canceling Sunday voting altogether. Welcome to the Jim Crow of the 21st Century. It's less sexy than the racist laws of the 20th Century, but it's just as dangerous.

We need to revisit our past to understand how we got here. Jim Crow laws came about after the north basically gave up on reconstruction and left the south to fend for itself. The utter failure of reconstruction allowed the same individuals who fought for the Confederacy to take charge and enact brutally racist laws designed to terrorize and disenfranchise the newly freed blacks of the south.

This hell on earth lasted nearly one hundred years until the civil rights movement which began in earnest during the mid-20th Century. Jim Crow laws were eventually thrown out with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited disenfranchisement based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Not surprisingly, those who wanted to reverse these gains had to think of new ways to make it hard for minorities to vote. What better way to do that then declare a 'War on Drugs' and start imprisoning millions of citizens for nonviolent offenses? Who do we have to thank for this 'war' that has imprisoned and disenfranchised millions of Americans? Every conservatives hero, Ronald Reagan.

America's prison population exploded during Reagan's tenure and continued to rapidly rise for the next thirty years. This war was deliberately directed towards America's minority population, as anyone who studies the numbers can attest to. Crack cocaine would get you locked up for one hundred times longer than powder cocaine. Seriously, 100:1. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 changed that ratio to 18:1, which still doesn't make much sense considering it's the same drug! Not just that, but study after study shows that black Americans sentences are disproportionally longer than those of whites.

Eleven states currently have laws that can strip voting rights of convicted felons for the rest of their lives. Another twenty states strip voting rights during a prisoners incarceration, parole, and probation, which can sometimes last the rest of their lives. Four states strip voting rights during a prisoners incarceration and parole. And thirteen states plus Washington D.C. restrict voting rights during a prisoners incarceration. Only two out of fifty states allow prisoners to vote while they are in prison. This has to change and change now.

Voting is a fundamental right in this country. It is time for Democrats and liberals to stand up and demand this change. President Obama and Attorney General Holder have tried to get this conversation started, but they need us to stand with them. It is my belief that every legal citizen in this country should have the right to vote. If you stand with me then contact the Attorney General and the Senate and House Judiciary Committee's. We need to convince our leaders that this is the top Civil Rights issue of the 21st Century.

Click Here to Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee

Click Here to Contact the House Judiciary Committee

Click Here to Contact the Attorney General
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Certainly and overlooked and under talked about problem in our society. We are far to quick to destroy people's lives based on one mistake. Instead, we should aim for rehabilitation and inclusion; not create a class of career criminals, stripped of rights and forever limited.