So, what happened to paying your debt to society? Republican State Senator Craig Tieszen want to give voting rights back to felons as soon as they’re out of prison.
According to KOTA news:
District 34 Senator Craig Tieszen will introduce a bill this legislative session to restore voting rights to felons as soon as they get out of prison.
State law dictates that felons have to wait until their parole is finished.
But keeping in line with the state’s mission to reform criminal justice, Tieszen said Friday that it is only fair that felons get the chance to take part in the voting process.
Read it here.
Sorry, but that’s just a bad move, and no reason to be soft on criminals. What’s next? A polling place at the state pen? The fact of the matter is that in 2012, South Dakota finally fixed what was a confusing patchwork system and clarified that:
Under South Dakota Codified Law § 12-4-18, a person convicted of a felony in either federal or state court on or after July 1, 2012 loses the right to vote. A person so disqualified becomes eligible to register to vote upon completion of his or her entire sentence. A person who receives a suspended imposition of sentence does not lose the right to vote.
Read that here.. If you look at that page, it details the mess we had before.
And, the truth is that there’s a lot more to sentences than jail time. There’s restitution, there’s treatment, and a host of other remedies and hoops the court may require before the felon has completed their sentence and has their full citizenship restored.
Why would we give someone less incentive to fulfill their obligations? Because while some think it might be fair for the felon, what about fairness for the victim? Shouldn’t, say an embezzler, meet the sentence requirement of restitution before having their right restored?
It’s even a worse idea this year. Why? Two words – Annette Bosworth.
Say this law passes. If Annette is convicted (or pleads guilty) to election violations, for a white collar petition felony charge, she likely would not spend one hour in prison. Which, under the Tieszen proposal, means her right to vote would suffer no consequences whatsoever.
Why would we want to do that for election violators? Shouldn’t there be some effect on a right to vote in that situation?
There are a lot of reasons to reject this. Most importantly, I keep coming back to the fact we just fixed this law in 2012. So why would we step backwards and make it a confusing mess again?
That’s just a bad idea.