“Moral turpitude” and felony have never been exactly synonymous. And in fact, Alabama recently changed laws regarding many categories of conviction that now allows for those individuals to retain their voting rights. It is also an unfortunate fact that Alabama has the highest incarceration rate in the world and while it isn’t nice to say, black people are three times more likely to be convicted of a crime in this state.
A quick review of “moral turpitude” leaves one wondering how it ever got into the legal annals to begin with, since it is virtually never defined in a consistent manner and is always subjective depending on the context. Well, it seems to me that if we have a “community” it can and should deal in absolutes and the subjectivity of determining “moral turpitude” ought to be done away with completely.
To the extend that voting rights are denied, it seems more like a determination with a perspective based on voting as a privilege rather than a right. Nowadays, largely based on new DNA technology, hundreds even thousands, of convictions are being overturned and men are being release from incarceration because of faulty evidence and the reality that someone told an outright lie. It doesn’t make sense, unless a crime indicates some sort of very, very egregious intent – why further disenfranchise people when they could be encouraged to be responsible participating members of the community instead? And really, don’t all people have the right to representation, which is what voting is about to being with.
Alabama has made the right decision by sharply curtailing the categories of crime that disqualify voting rights. Roy Moore has aptly illustrated the reality that the highly subjective so-called “moral turpitude” is in fact a vestige of segregationism. Roy Moore’s attempt to denigrate the Jones campaign for registering legal voters is reprehensible, and yet another act of contempt – by the hanging judge.
© 2017 – Jim Casey
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