Ever since the 2000 election in the United States, the fact that in many states ex-convicts are barred from voting, has become somewhat more known. Rarely covered in the mainstream media, the few investigative reports done on the topic of voter fraud in places like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, revealed that in several cases, people were taken off of voter rolls and labeled as former convicts.
One related issue that even fewer reports or public figures are brave enough to bring forward is the policies in various US states that keep prisoners, parolees, those on probation and those once convicted of the most minor of offenses, from voting. In 10 US states people who have served their sentences and are now out of prison, not on parole or probation, are kept from voting for life. As incarcerated citizens are often stigmatized regardless of their crime or if they’ve already completed their sentence, it would seem the average citizen doesn’t care or see them as deserving of equal rights once they’re back in society. Which translates to very little political pressure to change this policy that so many states have.
On a recent edition of The State We’re In, this was exactly the topic that was explored. Specifically the program looked into how ex-cons feel about not having that right. And, for those who do, what importance they give to having that right. What interested me most was when they briefly touched on studies that have shown that when ex-cons return to society and have their right to vote restored, this can have the effect of making them feel more part of society and responsible for what happens in their community. Click the link above and listen to the segment, a very important question that hardly any people in positions of power are willing to ask.
Remind me to visit the staff of Radio Netherlands and buy everyone at The State We’re In a drink. Week in and week out the crew produces excellent audio programs on topics related to human rights and human wrongs.
In their latest program they hit yet another homerun with a segment that just reached out and grabbed me; forgiveness.
While I was raised in a fairly religious family, I myself don’t have a religion, nor do I want one.Â But one of those lessons many religions seem to try to teach people, is the importance of forgiveness.Â Throughout the world there are so many terrible conflicts… and when these conflicts end… if they are really to end.. forgiveness seems to me a very essential stage.Â Yet after many conflicts you don’t often see that many truth and reconciliation processes.
In their latest program, The State We’re In speaks with someone from the Forgiveness Project, which is all about understanding and inspiring forgiveness. And later in the program they go to a park in South Africa, know as Freedom Park, which is dedicated to the idea of forgiveness; a place where people (victim or perpetrator) can tell their stories and make amends.
I highly recommend you listen to this segment, and the program in general. If there’s one thing the world could use more of, it is forgiveness.
Over the past few weeks I’ve finally started sorting through programs offered by Radio Netherlands via podcast. I have long heard that the Dutch sponsored English language radio had some great programs worth listening to.
Little did I know one of my first choices to subscribe to, The State We’re In (not to be mistaken with the fine blog of my good friend Brian – TheStateImIn), is in fact hosted by a former classmate of mine – Jonathan.
Beyond being hosted my an old acquaintance, The State We’re In covers some solid issues that I would say are under reported by mainstream media. Case in point, the most recent show features a report about the terrible death and suffering going on in Burma. A place that is completely ignored by big media and much of the international community, I for one was glued to my mp3 player and thankful that someone is dedicating time and energy to reporting about it. Go give it a listen. (and for those who prefer text, there’s a text feature as well)