The majority of U.S. states disenfranchise formerly incarcerated individuals because of their poverty by conditioning re-enfranchisement on the full payment of legal financial obligations. This Note discusses the practice of wealth-based criminal disenfranchisement where the inability to pay legal financial obligations, including fines, fees, restitution, interest payments, court debts, and other economic penalties, prohibits low-income, formerly incarcerated individuals from voting. This Note argues this issue has not been adequately addressed due to unsuccessful legislative reforms and failed legal challenges. An examination of state policies, federal and state legislative reforms, and litigation shows that a more drastic state legislative solution is needed to ensure that no individual is prevented from voting because of their poverty. This Note argues wealth-based criminal disenfranchisement should be completely abolished.
Prohibiting the Punishment of Poverty: The Abolition of Wealth-Based Criminal Disenfranchisement,
U. Mich. J. L. Reform
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjlr/vol54/iss4/7