Skip to main content
Felon Disenfranchisement The Judiciary’s Role in Renegotiating Racial Divisions
Race and Society (2012)
  • Brian P. Schaefer, University of Louisville
  • Peter B. Kraska, Eastern Kentucky University

Felon disenfranchisement is deeply rooted in U.S. history as a form of punishment and as a tool to inhibit African Americans from voting. Today, there are 5.3 million U.S.

residents politically disenfranchised due to a felony conviction—about 2 million of whom are African Americans. The overrepresentation of African Americans disenfranchised, and the U.S. history of racism, brings forth the question of how these laws continue to exist. The objective of this study is to demonstrate, through a socio–legal approach, the federal court system’s role in perpetuating and maintaining the ethnoracial divisions in society through the validation and rationalization of felon

disenfranchisement laws. We aim to demonstrate how over the past century many disenfranchisement laws have been ‘‘whitewashed’’ in order to eliminate any indication of racially motivated practices, a practice that coincides with the historic expansion of the penal state in the controlling of minority populations.

DOI: 10.1177/2153368712456211

  • felon disenfranchisement,
  • race and corrections,
  • race and courts,
  • supreme court decisions,
  • critical race theory,
  • criminological theories,
  • White privilege,
  • criminological theories,
  • mass incarceration,
  • race and death penalty,
  • African/Black Americans,
  • race/ethnicity
Publication Date
Citation Information
Brian P. Schaefer and Peter B. Kraska. "Felon Disenfranchisement The Judiciary’s Role in Renegotiating Racial Divisions" Race and Society Vol. 2 Iss. 4 (2012)
Available at: