5.85 million people disenfranchised in the U.S.


Almost a quarter of a million former felons are disenfranchised in Kentucky. That is the latest update from a study released by the Sentencing Project, a comprehensive state-by-state report of felony disenfranchisement rates in the U.S. as they stood in 2010.

The report documents that a record 5.85 million people were disenfranchised across the U.S. as a result of a felony conviction.

In addition, findings include:

  • The number of disenfranchised persons has increased dramatically along with the rise in criminal justice populations in recent decades, rising from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 5.85 million today.

  • Of the total disenfranchised population, about 45% – 2.6 million people – have completed their sentences but reside in one of the 11 states that disenfranchise people post-sentence

  • 1 of every 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, and in three states – Florida, Kentucky and Virginia – the figure is one in five. 

The report is authored by Christopher Uggen and Sarah Shannon of the University of Minnesota, and Jeff Manza of New York University, and is available here.

In Kentucky specifically, the study found that:

  • 243,842 Kentuckians don't have the right to vote because of a past felony conviction – 7.35% of the voting age population. That's up from the 186,000 estimate we had previously used.  

  • 22.34% of voting age African Americans in Kentucky don't have the right to vote. 

And even these numbers are lagging from 2010 and likely much higher now in 2012. 

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