What Rights Does a Felon Have?
In 2008, a Pew Center research report was released stating that roughly 1 in every 100 adult U.S. citizens were currently serving time in local, State, or Federal penitentiaries. This makes the United States, somewhat appropriately dubbed a “prison nation,” the world’s undisputed leader in inmate populations, with statistics showing prisoner numbers of well over two million from coast to coast. If those people considered ex-felons were to be included, this number would truly be overwhelming.
Even China, with both a larger land mass and a population three times as great as the U.S., showed lower numbers. In addition, a separate study showed that approximately 1 in every 30 or so people were currently under some form of State or Federal felon correctional program, like parole or probation.
Although what such data essentially implies is that incarceration is becoming a very serious problem in America, it also leads to the assumption that because of such a drastic inmate population, the rights of felons, to some degree, are bound to be overlooked in consideration of the greater issues at hand. An important factor to keep in mind, however, is that nearly all of these two million felons have lost their most fundamental rights as citizens, including their right to vote.
Felon disenfranchisement, though, is only one of many rights revoked upon a felony conviction. While felon rights laws will often vary drastically from State to State, the right to bear arms and the right to work in a licensed profession, among others, will also be denied for felons. Most importantly, though, once a felon is re-admitted back into society, the various stigmas attached to their offenses will usually follow them for quite some time, long after they have paid their dues for the crimes committed. Even felons on parole or probation in many states will have to wait some time before rights are reinstated.