How Do Your Rights Change When Convicted of a Felony?
The punishment inflicted on convicted felons lasts long after their prison sentences or parole periods are over, and involves the loss of many rights upon their release, at times permanently, while other times, it is temporary. The laws by which felons’ rights are taken away depend on the state where they committed their crimes. In addition, certain federal programs may become inaccessible to felons. The concept of diminished rights for convicted felons following serving time in prison goes back to Ancient Rome. However, which specific rights are removed and which can be restored vary from state to state. The following are some of the rights and benefits that may be lost following a felony conviction.
Voting Rights Often Get Lost
Virtually all states remove felons’ voting right, though some allow them to vote from prison or do not remove the right at all. This topic is a major point of concern in prison and throughout civil rights debates because there are 5 million citizens of the United States denied voting rights due to such practices.
Other Rights a Felon Often Loses
Felons might also lose other rights related to politics. This can include the right to serve on a jury or run for any form of political office.
Can a Felon Bear Arms?
Most states take away or severely limit felons’ right to possess weapons. When a person buys a weapon, they must go through a background check that looks for any felony conviction in the person’s past. Owning gifted weapons is even a problem, legally.
Traveling Outside of the United States
Felons can legally own a passport, and use it to travel outside of the U.S. However, there are many different countries around the world that will not allow a felon to get a visa. Anyone convicted of a felony should make sure to do ample research before traveling, just to be sure of what to expect when they get to their destination.
Those with felony convictions have a much harder time defending their parental rights, mainly custody rights. In many cases, the courts have a poor opinion of felons’ child-raising abilities, especially if their felonies involve violent crimes or sex crimes.
Loss of Benefits from the Government
In addition, felons lose access to some government assistance programs. This can include things like food stamps, grants, social security, public housing, and others.
Employee Discrimination Is a Common Roadblock
Employers do not have to hire felons. All they have to do is allow a felon to apply for their open positions. Many civil rights groups also want to abolish these practices, since it will help felons become a helpful and functional person when they reacclimate to society. It is legal to deny a felon the right to apply in a few specific instances, like law enforcement or educational positions.
Relocating to a different state will not restore or change these rights or losses of rights. If you move as a felon, the new state you go to must honor whatever law the other state had by the way the Constitution was written. You can request that your conviction be sealed or even expunged, allowing you to restore a few of the rights you lost.
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