Professional skills of the human service workers are aligned with the global social changes, which transform and coordinate human relations. Therefore, the duties of such specialists include promoting positive alterations (Abramovitz, 1998). In this paper, the role of human services in addressing ex-felon disenfranchisement problem is overviewed.
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The expert opinions on the policies of voting, which are not granted to ex-felon prisoners, differ. However, one can differentiate two major directions in disenfranchisement treatment. The first line of social change may be supported by the recommendation of the President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, Roger Clegg. According to him, the major task for international human services is to promote the opinion, according to which people, who have once committed a felony, are supposed to be equaled to people with mental disabilities, due to their mistreatment of state rights (Hamilton & Lines, 2009). The similar attitude, however, may have adverse effects on the development of global society, as well as discriminated minority groups, in particular. For instance, the majority of felonies, in the USA, are committed by Afro-Americans. Mainly, every person out of 13 colored citizens is a prisoner (Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, 2000).
Therefore, communicating the idea of ex-felons’ disabilities might be misperceived by the representatives of minority groups. Indeed, the history of disenfranchisement lists the cases, in which the policy was perceived as race discrimination measure rather than a judicial solution (American Counseling Association, 2005). In contrast to such decision, a non-biased alternative may be offered. Specifically, it could be recommended to implement probation termination of voting rights and align it with the program of felony prevention for minorities, which might be realized through educational and social involvement.
The second professional recommendation to human service workers was suggested by the Professor of Sociology in the University of Washington, Alexes Harris. Due to the expert, ex-felons should not be deprived of voting rights since they have to be properly rehabilitated after the imprisonment by being accepted by the society (Allard & Mauer, 2000). The professor states, however, that becoming a legal citizen also means taking an active part in the political and economic life of the state. Therefore, he claims that every ex-felon has to be granted with voting right only after he/she pays official taxes, which were not allocated during the incarceration. According to Alexes Harris, such social transformation might perform two critical goals. First, it might improve the state economy. Second, the policy would change the social attitude to disenfranchisement since it could be positioned as a privilege.
The opinion, however, may be condemned. Thus, if the recommendation is implemented and acts in practice, it may exclude a huge part of deprived and needy citizens from the system of public human relations. Indeed, a number of ex-felons are unable to return their financial debt to their state since people, who spend a long time in prison, face substantial problems with getting a stable job. Therefore, paying tax debts becomes impossible for them, which automatically deprives ex-felons of any social rights.
The recommendation can be realized if one makes some critical corrections in it. For instance, human service employees may suggest the use of taxing policy only for those, who have financial opportunities to recompense the state. In the opposite case, they may be offered public service work as volunteers. If they agree to get engaged in the suggested work sphere and pass their probation successfully, they may gain their voting rights back. Moreover, such rehabilitation programs could take different educational and normative forms: for instance, volunteer services, which trace that ex-felons work with diligence, may offer them permanent work positions (Hyde, 2004).
Abramovitz, M. (1998). Social work and social reform: An arena of struggle. Social Work, 43(6), 512–526. Web.
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. (2000). Web.
Allard, P., & Mauer, M. (2000). Regaining the vote: An assessment of activity relating to felon disenfranchisement laws. Social Work, 51(4), 21-35. Web.
American Counseling Association. (2005). Web.
Hamilton, C., & Lines, R. (2009). The campaign for prisoner voting rights in Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Web.
Hyde, C. A. (2004). Multicultural development in human services agencies: Challenges and solutions. Social Work, 49(1), 7–16. Web.