A majority of University of La Verne students believe that convicted felons should be able to vote – at least according to an informal survey on campus earlier this month.
In the survey of 20 students total, 16 students said convicted felons should be allowed to vote, while only four said they should not have that right.
This is one of the controversial matters at issue nationally, brought up by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is leading in Democratic primaries going into Super Tuesday next week.
Sanders has said convicted felons should be able to vote while they are incarcerated because they are paying their debt to society already by serving time.
Democrats calling for systemic changes to the criminal justice system, including Sanders have been criticized by their opponents.
But not so much here.
“I say yes (felons should vote), because they serve their debt to society, and just like anyone else they are human,” Celeste Wilkin, sophomore business administration major, said. “Voting is a guaranteed human right.”
Marcus Young, senior theater major, added that if the convicted served their time, then they should be granted their right to vote.
“What are they free for, if they can’t have the basic rights to vote? Being convicted should not be a hindrance to something as such.”
The four students who did not believe convicted felons should vote offered a different perspective.
Andrew Gutierrez, sophomore business administration major said that they should not have the right to vote – at least not while they are in prison – because they have proven they can not be a part of society.
“When they were out in the world, if they were already making bad decisions, they gave up that freedom when they decided to break the law,” Ahmad Bealey, sophomore kinesiology major, said.
When all were asked about whether convicts should be able to vote while still serving prison sentences, 10 students said they should not vote until they are out of prison.
“I do believe that certain convicted felons, mostly those convicted of the worst crimes should not be allowed to vote,” Wilkin said.
Sophia Sanchez, sophomore biology major, said that during their time in prison, they should not be rewarded with the right to vote. Not until they have fully served their sentence and have been released from prison.
The other 10 students, who believe felons should be able to vote from prison, said that not being allowed to vote is dehumanizing.
The last part of the survey asked whether the crime committed mattered, and 16 students voiced that the crime did not.
“Different crimes carry different weights,” said Lauren Miranda, sophomore international studies major.
“If someone was selling drugs, went to jail but changed their ways, they should be seen as a citizen and have the right to vote,” Miranda said.
Rashonda Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.