Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Not all crimes are created equal

Marijuana possession isn't murder.

It's common-sensical enough that there's an enormous moral difference between those two crimes, yet Alabama has been making people convicted of owning a few bags of weed get in line along with murderers to apply to the state parole board to regain their voting rights after their release. That's despite the fact that state law strips voting rights only from people convicted of felonies involving "moral turpitude," which logically couldn't include all felonies or else those words would be superfluous.

The NAACP Legal and Educational Defense Fund has sued the state, asserting a violation of the Alabama Constitution and presumably seeking clarification as to which crimes do not automatically trigger the reapplication requirement. If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details, Edward Still, a Birmingham attorney working on the plaintiffs' side, promises to post copies of the pleadings later today at his Votelaw site.

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