Jacobin’s Jonah Walters reports

In recent weeks, as the coronavirus pandemic’s devastation has spread, some attention has turned towards one of the most vulnerable groups in our society: those who are incarcerated, often in conditions that already posed great risks to health and safety before the coronavirus outbreak. Organizers around the country, from San Francisco to New York City to Pittsburgh, have called for a public health response that includes significant protections for incarcerated people, including the release of many prisoners.

At a moment like this, it is important to remember one of the most perverse elements of the American criminal justice system: all across the country, almost everyone incarcerated on a felony conviction loses their right to vote during the entire time they spend in prison, and often for long periods even after their release — a phenomenon advocates refer to as “civic death.”