Prompt: The Incarcerated Vote

HR 1 is a voting rights bill that if it was passed in its original form, would have restored the rights of incarcerated people and ex-felons to vote in federal elections. The bill has long been amended solely to restoring the voting rights of ex-felons, but it also brought attention to another intriguing aspect I’m sure most people probably don’t know.

For centuries at the behest of the white establishment, minorities have been disproportionately policed, jailed, and imprisoned. Beyond stripping the lives away from young black and brown men in this country, states have found ways to actually profit from putting minorities in prison economically evidently, but more interesting, politically.

HR 1 identifies a law that allows counties with prisons to have people they house counted toward that county’s population on the U.S. census. Thereby pilfering the population of multicultural, urban (largely Democratic) areas and adding them to rural, largely white (largely Republican) areas. All the while, eviscerating the incarcerated person’s right to vote. This dynamic is the core of what can be considered as politically-motivated slavery.

With the reallocation of the urban populace to these rural areas, the voice of the people is stricken from a more accurate representation of the people, and is instead granted to a more diluted form of constituents who would be more likely in favor of continuing the trend of mass incarceration, post-millennium slavery, and the further exploition of black and brown people for personal and monetary gain.

HR 1 intends to correct that law and return the population of those incarcerated back to their hometowns… There has been much work in recent legislation concerning criminal justice reform to correct the racist systemic devices that have been used to disenfranchise droves of minorities in America for a majority of its history, however the threat of the old establishment looms over us all, impeding our progression to a more perfect union. Awareness is the first step, activism is the following one.

Know that the bile of racism runs deep, and its effects are subtle. The old guard feared that we, as a people, would become aware, so they withheld education and knowledge from us for centuries. But what they fear most is that, armed with such education and knowledge of self, we would actually do something about it, so they try to break and discourage us, and even pit us against one another. We must understand that we are solely responsible for making sure that their every effort from here on out is made in vain. Times ARE changing. We, at this moment, may not be able to enjoy a world truly free of systemic racism before our time is up, but be sure, our efforts now will be the catalyst for the world our future generations will experience…

I extend my love to each and everyone seeking freedom, not only for themselves, but the world now and the world to come…

Love, peace, and action…

Prompt For Incarcerated People: Compose an essay, poem, art, or any other form of creative expression you may have. Think about your experience participating and learning about the political process. Below is a list of questions meant to serve as inspiration for your piece.

  • What is your experience with voting and the political system before and after incarceration?
  • What are your thoughts on voting while incarcerated?
  • How can we change the point of view on letting incarcerated people vote?
  • How has participating in the political system impacted your life?
  • Are you more educated about the system now than you were back then?
  • How would being able to vote change your life?

Make sure to let the people know who you are, where you’re from, and any project(s) you may have or have been involved with so we can promote it. Thank you for your contribution. We are working together to bring awareness to the brilliance they have locked away behind bars.

Thank you to the readers of Answers to this prompt will be coming in through April of 2021 from those incarcerated across Virginia.