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I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 16 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

But now, more than ever, we need your help to put data & compassion into the conversation. Any gift you can make today will be matched by other donors and go twice as far.

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—Peter Wagner, Executive DirectorDonate

Section II: Incarceration & Its Consequences

Disenfranchisement

  • Percent of all voting age Americans disenfranchised (not allowed to vote, temporarily or permanently) by reason of a felony conviction397: 2.28%
  • Number of states that deny the vote, for life, to all ex-offenders in their state who have completed their sentences398: 8
  • Number of states that disenfranchise prisoners convicted of a felony399: 48
  • Number of states that disenfranchise felony probationers400: 29
  • Number of states that disenfranchise felons on parole401: 33
  • Percent of states in the year 1800 that disenfranchised some or all of their convicted felons402: 0%
  • Year Utah disenfranchised its prisoners403: 1998
  • Year Massachusetts disenfranchised its prisoners404: 2000
  • Percent of states in 2000 that disenfranchise some or all of their convicted felons405: 96%
  • Percent of African-American men disenfranchised by a felony conviction406: 13.1%
  • Number of states that disenfranchise more than 5% of their adult population407: 6
  • Number of states that disenfranchise more than 5% of their African-American population408: 28
  • Number of states that disenfranchise more than 10% of their African-American population409: 16

Changing elections

  • Number of U.S. Senate elections since 1978 whose outcome was changed by felon disenfranchisement410: 7
  • Year Kennedy defeated Nixon in a presidential election411: 1960
  • Kennedy's margin of victory in the popular vote over Nixon, 1960412: 118,550
  • Had modern rates of disenfranchisement applied in 1960, Nixon's margin of victory over Kennedy413: 106,261

Election 2000

  • Margin of victory, George Bush over Al Gore in Florida, 2000414: 537
  • Number of Floridians disenfranchised by reason of a felony conviction415: 827,207
  • Number of Floridians free of prison, parole or probation who are disenfranchised for life416: 613,514
  • Percent of African-American adults in Florida who are disenfranchised417: 16.02%
  • Percent of African-American adult males in Florida who are disenfranchised418: 31.2%
  • Without disenfranchisement, probable margin of victory for Al Gore over George Bush in Florida419: 80,000
  • If Florida had allowed ex-felons (but not prisoners, probationers or parolees) to vote in 2000, probable margin of victory for Al Gore over George Bush in Florida420: 40,000

This page is an excerpt from The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (April 2003) by Peter Wagner, published by the Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative.

Footnotes

397 Democratic Contraction, Appendix Table A.

398 Sentencing Project, Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, updated 11/02. p. 1.4

399 Sentencing Project, Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, updated 11/02. p. 3.

400 Sentencing Project, Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, updated 11/02. p. 3.

401 Sentencing Project, Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, updated 11/02. p. 3

402 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 795.

403 “The Prison Bloc”, Bangor Daily News, May 3, 1999.

404 Raphael Lewis, Initiative Tallies Show Conservative Bent In Some Cases, Spending Not Deciding Factor,The Boston Globe, Nov. 9, 2000.

405 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 795.

406 Sentencing Project & Human Rights Watch, Losing the Vote, October 1998, p. 9.

407 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 797.

408 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 798.

409 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 798.

410 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 789.

411 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 792.

412 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 793.

413 Democratic Contraction, Table 4b.

414 The Nation. April 30, 2001, p. 11

415 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 797.

416 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 797.

417 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 798.

418 Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch, Losing the Vote, October 1998, p. 9.

419 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 792.

420 Calculation, Democratic Contraction, p. 792.

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