Locked Out

Want to participate in your democracy? In many states, ex-felons need not apply.


Nearly 800,000 Americans are on parole. Add in those on probation, and the total is more than 5 million.

48 states prohibit prisoners from voting. 30 states also exclude felons on probation. In Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Virginia, certain ex-felons lose their voting privileges for life.

13% of black men currently have no voting privileges.

5.3 million Americans will not have the right to vote this November due to felony convictions.

In 2000, 614,000 ex-felons lived in Florida. The state went to Bush by 537 votes.

Ex-felons can be prohibited from becoming bus drivers, exterminators, dental hygienists, bartenders, cemetery managers, and nursing-care attendants.

In the 2003-04 school year, 29,000 former drug felons were denied student loans. But robbers and rapists were still eligible.

Drug felons in 18 states are permanently banned from receiving welfare.

Public housing programs can evict an entire family based on one member’s past drug felony conviction.

Because the 2000 census counted Americans based on where they “live and sleep most of the time,” 44,326 New York City residents were tallied as living in parts of the state where they were imprisoned.

The Mojo Prison Guide Menu

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate