+

Politicians frequently do their best work when they no longer have to play politics.

The latest example? Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, whose term is up in January, signed an executive order restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their sentences.


The executive order doesn't apply to all convicted felons — according to Beshear, felons convicted of violent crimes, sex crimes, bribery, or treason will still not be allowed to vote — but thousands of Kentucky residents who have served their time for nonviolent offenses will finally have their full citizenship rights back.


And that's a good thing.

What? I don't get it. Who cares if criminals have the right to vote?

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.

Many convicted felons aren't unredeemable bad guys. Plenty were sent away for nonviolent offenses. Often, they're normal people who did something stupid once. Preventing them from voting is, essentially, a permanent punishment for offenses that can be as minor as selling marijuana or stealing a laptop.

Banning felons from the polls — though a race and class-neutral policy on its face — winds up disenfranchising a highly disproportionate number of poor and non-white voters.

And unlike 99.9% of all things, Beshear's order actually has bipartisan support. Though Beshear is a Democrat, Kentucky's incoming governor, Republican Matt Bevin, has said that he agrees with the idea in principle.

The best thing we can do for convicted criminals is integrate them back into society.

In theory, prison is supposed to help rehabilitate prisoners (that's where the "correctional" in "correctional facility" comes from). In reality, it's too often treated as punishment for punishment's sake.

For many former prisoners, losing their voting rights is just one component of the problem. Many struggle to find employment when they get out because many companies refuse to hire ex-convicts. As a result, many end up homeless or turn back to crime as a means of supporting themselves.

Politicians shouldn't have to wait until they're heading out of office to do what's right.

Especially when it comes to doing what's right for people who have already served their time.

Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

While it's easy to blame politicians for failing to step up to protect the rights of ex-convicts, it's hard not to understand why they don't. Being "soft on crime" is often a one-way ticket to losing elections. Tying all crime committed by ex-offenders to incumbents to reform sentencing is a time-honored tactic — that too frequently works.

It's on us to support politicians who want a humane, fair justice system that punishes appropriately with the goal of full rehabilitation and reintegration — and to understand that zero crime ever, unfortunately, not realistic. It's additionally on us not to reward those who prey on the fear of crime to keep former offenders indefinitely alienated from society.

Though some of their former actions may shock and offend, convicted felons are people too.

If they've done the time they were ordered to do, they deserve a second chance to be citizens.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

A man told me gun laws would create more 'soft targets.' He summed up the whole problem.

As far as I know, there are only two places in the world where people living their lives are referred to as 'soft targets.'

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Only in America are kids in classrooms referred to as "soft targets."

On the Fourth of July, a gunman opened fire at a parade in quaint Highland Park, Illinois, killing at least six people, injuring dozens and traumatizing (once again) an entire nation.

My family member who was at the parade was able to flee to safety, but the trauma of what she experienced will linger. For the toddler with the blood-soaked sock, carried to safety by a stranger after being pulled from under his father's bullet-torn body, life will never be the same.

There's a phrase I keep seeing in debates over gun violence, one that I can't seem to shake from my mind. After the Uvalde school shooting, I shared my thoughts on why arming teachers is a bad idea, and a gentleman responded with this brief comment:

"Way to create more soft targets."

Keep ReadingShow less

Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

Keep ReadingShow less