First Advisor

Paul Timmermans

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Political Science and University Honors


Political Science


Prisoners -- Suffrage -- United States, Loss of political rights -- United States, Discrimination in criminal justice administration, Race -- Political aspects




Elements of "civil death" were put into heavy practice in the reconstruction era, as the U.S. sought to use disenfranchisement as a means of restricting the integration of "undesirable" groups, specifically the recently emancipated African-Americans. Many states have since done away with restrictions on the voting rights of ex-offenders beyond completion of their sentence and sentence requirements; however, Iowa, Florida, and Kentucky employ strict standards for granting re-enfranchisement—nearly impossible for most to complete. Elsewhere in the U.S. there has been a move from disenfranchisement; Virginia’s Governor recently reinstated franchise rights to ex-offenders through executive order and has continued to do so on a rolling basis, while Vermont and Maine have no restrictions on their citizens’ suffrage rights.

In the absence of a national consensus on the issue, the purpose of political science in academia is to identify relations between the topic, power, and power identity and how each of these influences and is codified into relevant law. These laws, in turn, influence power, and as laws are passed variously at the state level throughout time, the changes in political zeitgeist at the time these laws are passed informs a variety of differing tones of disenfranchisement legislation. From a thorough examination of literature reviews, state legislation, and court decisions throughout American history comes a greater understanding of the nature and consequences of felon disenfranchisement and civic death on modern society.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier