Punishment and Democratic Rights: A Case Study in Non-Ideal Penal Theory

In Molly Gardner & Michael Weber (eds.), The Ethics of Policing and Imprisonment. pp. 7-37 (2018)
Steven Swartzer
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
In the United States, convicted offenders frequently lose the right to vote, at least temporarily. Drawing on the common observation that citizens of color lose democratic rights at disproportionately high rates, this chapter argues that this punishment is problematic in non-ideal societies because of the way in which it diminishes the political power of marginalized groups and threatens to reproduce patterns of domination and subordination, when they occur. This chapter then uses the case of penal disenfranchisement to illustrate how idealized discussions of deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution often ignore the relationship between punishment and social/political power, and thus systematically obscure morally significant aspects of our broader penal practices.
Keywords Non-Ideal Theory  Penal Disenfranchisement  Racial Injustice  Criminal Justice  felon disenfranchisement
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References found in this work BETA

A Theory of Justice.John Rawls - 1971 - Harvard University Press.
Ideal Vs. Non-Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map.Laura Valentini - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):654-664.
"Ideal Theory" as Ideology.Charles W. Mills - 2005 - Hypatia 20 (3):165-184.

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Felon Disenfranchisement and Democratic Legitimacy.Matt Whitt - 2017 - Social Theory and Practice 43 (2):283-311.

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