Letter: Felons deserve the right to vote

Erika Olson

Justice reform is happening nationwide, so give the constitutional right to vote to all citizens in Iowa. Prison terms are being shortened and people will be returning to society to feel ostracized by not being able to find suitable employment because Iowa couldn’t pass “Ban the Box” on employment applications.

Many felons have overcome addictions, domestic violence, mental illness, and with insurmountable legal fines owed, restoration of voting rights should be automatic once an offender returns to society. For a person to be a productive member of society, a person must be treated as a person, not labeled a felon for life. No matter how long offenders try paying off fines with their minimum-wage job, they may never be able to pay them. Recidivism is a common problem because of the stigma society places on former inmates by labeling all under the term “felon.” People’s perception of “felons” needs to change. They paid their debt with a loss of freedom, worked hard to be back in society and deserve the basic fundamental right to vote.

If people are expected to remain in society and not reoffend, then treat them as citizens and allow them the right to vote. Everybody has a story and until you have walked in a felon’s shoes you should not judge. We are human and we all make mistakes, but it is time to forgive and allow all citizens the right to vote.

Erika Olson


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