Monday, October 27, 2008

Things Convicted Felons Can and Cannot Do

Senator Stevens of Alaska, the longest-serving Republican senator, has been convicted of all seven corruption charges.

And, as the AP reports, there is no law barring a convicted felon from running for office and holding said office.

But, did you know that if you're a convicted felon you are barred access to funding from the Small Business Administration loan program? There were several clients that I worked with while serving in the Americorps*VISTA program that had an inordinately-difficult time trying to get assistance in starting a small business because of this felony record.

Why would we, as a nation and with the largest prison population and largest incarceration rate in the world, allow convicted felons to serve as Senators but not give these same people access to capital to start small businesses? This is a particularly odd position since many prisoners in Federal prisons (this is at least true in Georgia) work on infrastructure projects such as building highways - these prisoners have the technical know-how and plenty of work experience to run construction businesses.

Why should Americans allow themselves to be legislated to by people convicted of felony corruption, but not allow for felons to build their sidewalks?

1 comment:

  1. We shouldn't. Either allow both or neither. There's got to be some parity for a basis in any sort of logic.
    Why do we? That's where logic gets cast asunder. As far as elected officials are concerned, it is the responsibility of the citizenry to hold them to some standard. If, in light of legal indiscretions, they're still elected, then that's just the beauty of our democratic electoral process, no matter how jaw-droppingly absurd.
    Then there's the issue of inequity in judgment. If a man robs a bank of federally protected money, he's going to jail. If a man robs taxpayers of millions of dollars that they'll never see again, that's just the modus operandi of politicians. Even if he's charged and even if he gets sentenced and even if, then, he goes to jail, it won't be for long and he certainly won't be sharing a cell with the bank robber.
    I think it's because the politician wears a suit, carrying with it an air of prominence and responsibility. So, if there is a lesson to be learned in all of this, if you engage in a premeditated felony, do yourself a favor and wear a suit. You'll thank yourself later.