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We Can Change Our Future!

Ending Criminal Justice System Voter Disenfranchisement

In 2026, a black woman in Texas was arrested and sentenced to 6 years in prison for attempting to vote.  She’d been found guilty 4 years prior of tax evasion, after her husband cheated on taxes, not telling her.  She had never been told she was not allowed to vote after that; she cast a provisional ballot at the polls, when her name wasn’t on voter registration rolls; but it was never counted because she was ineligible.  She had no idea she was breaking the law, couldn’t believe the sentence she received, and hated prison.  She worried for her daughter and son, who had nobody to provide for them with both parents in jail, and the children were sent into the foster care system, in which abuse was rampant.  She went to work.

 

She researched federal and state laws that make it illegal for people in criminal justice systems to vote.  She found making drugs illegal (½ of U.S. prisoners) was done as a strategic way to eliminate political opposition from streets and elections, during the Nixon administration.  She calculated out 1 in 35 adults in the U.S. was in the prison system somehow, in the world’s largest and most expensive prison system.  She knew first-hand the harms she and her loved ones were suffering from her treatment in the system.  She realized stunning devastation was being realized across the U.S. from these rules and practices.

It was just not fair to disenfranchise that volume of voters from participating in U.S. elections and being able to influence government, laws and systems that were responsible for this level of harms and abuse.  She found a collaborator outside, a young white female journalist, and shared her concerns.  They met.

Together, they organized the largest prison strike in U.S. history.  On the outside, the young journalist did research, wrote articles and spoke publicly.  She organized a resistance movement through the web.  People all over the country woke up to the issue, admitting the unfairness, realizing it affected elections.  The word went out from family visitors to prisoners all over the country, and from prisoner to prisoner by word of mouth within prisons, and to the public via news and internet channels. 

The prisoners went on a nationwide hunger strike, within prisons, and refused to do prison labor.  Outside prisons, people gathered in picket lines, making it difficult for prison workers to come and go.  They had one simple demand, restore voting rights to anyone in the U.S. criminal justice system now. 

Well, it got ugly fast.  Angry “tough on crime” politicians ranted about how these weren’t really humans and didn’t deserve to be treated like citizens.  People they stirred up, showed up in counter-protests.  Inside prisons, prisoners got very hungry, very soon.  Media wars ensued.  Exploitative companies lost profits as they lost their cheap prison labor, for which they paid as little as $1 an hour.

This was all during the time of President Sioux’s first term, and the Government Takeback Amendment.  People were activated already about making change, already discussing reforms to government and law.  People in prison were dying of hunger.  President Sioux signed an Executive Order temporarily restoring voting rights to all U.S. citizens who had lost them, while the issue was to be debated in Congress.  Lawsuits opposing that were filed immediately.  Human judges supported her order temporarily.  Prisoners agreed to eat again, and people outside went home.  President Sioux took it on.

When the Government Takeback Amendment was approved, we also approved terms that guarantee to all U.S. citizens inalienable rights to vote, which cannot be removed by anybody, ever, for anything.  Almost 1,000 prisoners died of hunger in the strike.  Millions took to the streets outside in solidarity.  Those two women, one inside a prison, had created important and lasting change within the U.S. 

 

Coincidentally, voting rights for women were, finally, officially granted in this action, since states had never approved the Women’s Rights Amendment from the 1960s.

Women and humans harmed badly by criminal justice system and laws were able to vote, and they did.  They became a force for change in U.S. politics, because they didn’t take their new right to vote lightly.  They showed up for elections and engaged in politics and change, and so did others, motivated by them.  1 in 35 adults is a greater margin than determines most elections.  Women are more than half of voters.  These newly engaged and activated voters played huge roles in law, government and system reforms.

President Sioux pardoned the woman in prison in Texas, and she got her children back, all in tears.  Donors helped them buy a house, be secure, got her a job, and they are happy and together now.

 

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