Many people hardly ever think about the purpose of prison sentences. Yes, there are instances where society gets outraged at sentences in popular crime stories, like in the case of Brock Turner and his laughable prison sentence for a sexual assault he committed against an unconscious woman. However, we don't truly understand what it means to be sentenced and what it means to have served that sentence. I would imagine that when someone serves a prison sentence for a nonviolent crime, like a drug offense, that they would be able to join back into society after paying their debt to it. What many people don't understand, is that that isn't the case a lot of the time. Those who have felonies on their record have a seriously hard time becoming functioning members of society after-the-fact.
I understand that things that people do to get themselves into prison aren't admirable actions; however, where do we draw the line from disciplinary to excessive punishment? The Voter Restoration Amendment would allow those who have served a prison sentence, for crimes that are NOT murder or sex crimes, are able to gain back their right to vote. It is going to be Amendment 4 on the ballot this year. Voting is a basic right given to citizens of the United States by the Constitution. I believe that if someone has paid their due sentence in prison and are expected to become members of the community again, they should be able to vote on things that affect their newly-free lives too. However, with the way our system is set up, these people are unable to have that right even though they already paid their debt and served their sentence. Apparently, it's not enough.
Our current governor, Rick Scott, commented on the issue to the Miami Herald back in 2011, essentially saying that those who are convicted felons should have to go through a process in order to get their right to vote back. But is that not what prison is? Is serving time in prison not a punishment or disciplinary process that those who have committed crimes must go through in order to make amends with the country for the crimes they've committed?
Let me remind you again, that this amendment does not allow those who are out of prison from serving for crimes that are violent, such as murder or sex crimes, the right to vote.
According to an article written by the Orlando Sentinel, there has been research done by state's Commissioner on Offender Review that by giving second chances to those who have served their sentences for their nonviolent crimes aides in the overall safety in a community by urging ex-convicts to assimilate themselves into society again. This could end up being an overall good thing for our society. It allows us to share kindness and acceptance with one another without becoming cynical with one another. This amendment could be a step towards second chances for people who are willing to change their ways.
Remember, these people just want the right to vote and giving them this right could lead to a sense of responsibility for the community and in turn help these people make the changes they want to in order to be a functioning member of society. We need 60% of Florida voters to vote YES for Amendment 4. So, please, vote YES for second chances.
If you want to learn more about Amendment 4, as well as the types of people this amendment could help in a hilarious yet informative way, take 15 minutes out of your day and watch this video: