February 22, 2018

Mississippi disenfranchises one of ten voters for felony convictions

Sentencing Project -  State felony disenfranchisement laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia prevent 6.1 million American citizens from voting for a specified period of time because of their criminal record.1) In Mississippi, 9.63% of citizens in the state are disenfranchised, or nearly 1 of every 10 adults. This rate is more than triple the national rate of disenfranchisement (2.47%), which affects 1 of every 40 American adults.

Mississippi is one of only 12 states where individuals may be disenfranchised while incarcerated, under criminal justice supervision outside of prison, or permanently in many cases. Restrictions on voting after completion of sentence apply to Mississippi residents convicted of disqualifying offenses outlined in the state constitution including: murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement or bigamy.2) Today, there are 22 crimes3) that disenfranchise Mississippi residents from voting. In 2005, the Mississippi Attorney General added 11 new disfranchising crimes.4)

Overall, an estimated 218,181 people in Mississippi were disenfranchised as of 2016. Of this total, only 7 percent are incarcerated. The remaining 93 percent are living in the community either under probation or parole supervision, or have completed their criminal sentence. The number of African American residents disenfranchised in Mississippi numbered 127,130 in 2016 or nearly 16% of the black electorate.

Nationally, more than three-quarters of the 6.1 million disenfranchised citizens are not incarcerated, but are living in the community under felony probation or parole supervision, or have completed their sentences. The scale of disenfranchisement has risen dramatically along with the expansion of the criminal justice system since the 1970s. In 1976 an estimated 1.2 million people were disenfranchised.

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