Civil Death: An Examination of Ex-felon Disenfranchisement and Reintegration.

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In the state of Florida, when someone is found guilty of a felony crime they forfeit the right to vote, serve on a jury, and run for elected office. These civil rights are lost regardless of whether they are sentenced to incarceration, probation, or released into the community. The process to regain these civil rights can be difficult, time consuming, and impossible for some. Research on prisoner reentry suggests that the loss of these civil rights constitutes a barrier to full citizenship that may impede the process of community reintegration. This research employs 54 semi-structured interviews with ex-felons who have lost the right to vote to better understand the meaning former offenders attribute to the loss of their civil rights and to assess the impact this may have on staying out of trouble. Findings from this study suggest that for a significant number of ex-offenders the loss of voting rights poses an obstacle to successful reintegration.