Perhaps an Ex-Felon Would Be Good for Government?
Jordan D. Haskins, the unopposed in the GOP candidate for Michigan’s 95th District and convicted felon, may be a fun candidate to lampoon, but there is a small part of me that wishes he would win. Not because I think he is going to be a particularly gifted public official, but instead because it would be very interesting to see someone inside the political system who has come out of that other system.
Conviction of a felony in the United States is tantamount to a life sentence. They may eventually be released, such as in Haskins’s case where he was released after a year in jail, but the stigma associated with being a felon persists forever.
People with at least one felony conviction typically cannot pass a background check. If Haskins were elected to an office where he’d need some kind of security clearance, he most likely wouldn’t get one. For the average person, this typically means that employment and housing options are severely limited. As one woman convicted of a felony 15 years ago writes on the Experience Project, “I can work at Burger King (maybe), but who is that going to support?”
In a lengthy and personal column for VICE, Brian Aitken tells the story of how he became a felon for legally owning guns in New Jersey. He is currently estranged from his son, who still lives in the state, and also was unable to study abroad for his Master’s Degree because, as a felon, the U.S. will not allow him to travel to other countries.
I am not suggesting I want a government populated by felons, really. I just also believe that the current lifetime relegation to the lower classes, in our supposedly classless society, is also a bit extreme. And there is no politician with the political ability or even political will to stand up for citizens who most likely can’t vote for them.
The current prison system is a considerable drain on not just federal, state, and local budgets but also a on the people touched by it. Perhaps if a felon made it into government, he or she just might try to fix this crippling problem.