In an election year, it’s the quantity, not quality, of voters; a fact known all too well by The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice research and advocacy organization out of Washington, D.C., that seeks to promote a criminal lenience agenda by advocating for the rights of convicts, through such policy changes as: shorter jail sentences, alternatives to incarceration, and most importantly, the right for felons to vote. The Sentencing Project, although around since 1986, has come to recent public attention in the past months due to its outspokenness on the case of Marcus Dixon, an 18-year-old, black high school student in Georgia who was found guilty of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation of a 15-year-old, white girl. The mandatory minimum jail sentencing for aggravated child molestation in the state is 10 years.
Marc Mauer, Assistant Director of The Sentencing Project, has argued against what he believes is an unfair and overtly lengthy sentencing for Dixon, saying, in an interview with the Associated Press, “You have this one-size-fits-all type of sentencing. No two cases are alike, no two victims or offenders are alike.” Dixon’s attorneys contended that the sexual encounter was consensual. A sexual assault center that examined the victim found vaginal tearing and bruising. Dixon had a history of sexual misconduct on the school’s premises before the incident.
The primary thrust of The Sentencing Project in recent years has been to tackle and overturn the country’s felony disenfranchisement laws, which prohibit convicted felons from voting. With the exception of Maine and Vermont, all states bar felons currently serving a jail term from voting. Twenty-nine states do not allow felons on probation to vote, and thirty-three states do not let felons on parole vote. The Sentencing Project seeks to expose what it believes are inadequacies of sentencing consistency with regards to race, and uses this basis to sermonize the need for reinstatement of the right to vote for convicted felons.
In a 1998 report entitled “Losing The Vote: The Impact Of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States,” The Sentencing Project alluded to a political motivation for disenfranchisement laws, by stating, “Defenders of these laws have been hard pressed to justify them: they most frequently cite the patently inadequate goal of protecting against voter fraud or the anachronistic and politically untenable objective of preserving the ‘purity of the ballot box’ by excluding the voters lacking in virtue.” In a recent study and survey, sociologists Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza found that most disenfranchised felons, if permitted to vote, would do so for a Democratic candidate. Moreover, Uggen and Manza believe that the 2000 Presidential Election would certainly have found Al Gore to be the victor, had felons been granted the right to vote.
At this point, we must ask ourselves, “Does The Sentencing Project have a political motivation for seeking to allow convicted thieves, murderers, and rapists the right to vote?” The answer may come from the group’s funding. The Sentencing Project is a national non-profit organization, which utilizes grant money from several “socially-minded” foundations and organizations, individual contributions, and even taxpayers’ money through grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The list of contributors over the years reads like a “who’s who” of liberal grant-giving foundations, and includes The Ford Foundation, The JEHT Foundation, and The MacArthur Foundation. A key contributor, and one that was cited as such in the report, “Losing The Vote,” is George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
George Soros, an international philanthropist, Wall Street financier, multi-billionaire, and convicted insider trader, founded the Open Society Institute (OSI) in 1993. The OSI has as its goal the implementation of “initiatives that aim to promote open societies by shaping government policy and supporting education, media, public health, and human and women's rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform.” The OSI spends 500 million dollars annually on organizations like, and including, The Sentencing Project.
To say Soros has been outspoken against the War in Iraq, the current Administration’s Foreign Policy, our nation’s economy, and even President Bush himself, would be a gross understatement. This past December, Soros released his latest book, entitled “The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power,” in which he accuses Bush of war mongering and “…deliberately exploit[ing] September 11 to pursue policies that the American public would not have otherwise tolerated.” This past Fall, he committed 5 million dollars to the anti-Clinton-impeachment / anti-Bush-everything group Moveon.org, and 10 million dollars to the far left grassroots organization America Coming Together, which has as its goal, “to mobilize voters to defeat George W. Bush and elect progressive candidates all across America.” And in an interview with The Washington Post, when he was asked if he would consider giving up his 7 billion dollar fortune if Bush would lose the presidential election in 2004, Soros replied, “If someone guaranteed it,” causing some to fear that Soros may attempt to manipulate the financial markets to disrupt consumer confidence prior to the November elections.
But perhaps in future elections, Soros wouldn’t have to resort to such drastic measures as giving millions of dollars to liberal activist organizations or disrupting consumer confidence in the financial markets if felons were allowed to vote. In the study conducted by Uggen and Manza, “hypothetical felon voters showed strong Democratic preferences in both presidential and senatorial elections. In recent presidential elections, even comparatively unpopular Democratic candidates, such as George McGovern in 1972, would have garnered almost 70 percent of the felon vote…The survey data suggest that Democratic candidates would have received about 7 of every 10 votes cast by the felons and ex-felons in 14 of the last 15 U.S. Senate election years.”
“By removing those with Democratic preferences from the pool of eligible voters,” the report continues, “felon disenfranchisement has provided a small but clear advantage to Republican candidates in every presidential and senatorial election from 1972 to 2000.” It is noteworthy to mention that Uggen and Manza’s study was made possible by grants from, of course, Soros’ Open Society Institute.
The American Civil Liberties Union, too, has supported The Sentencing Project and joined in the crusade to overturn the disenfranchisement laws. In March of 2000, Larry Frankel, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, spoke before the Pennsylvania House Of Representatives, stating, “There is certainly no basis for asserting that ex-felons have any less interest in the democratic process than any other citizen. Like everyone else, their daily lives are deeply affected by the decisions of government.” In recent years, the ACLU has enacted a media advertising campaign and filed numerous lawsuits aimed at voters’ rights and overturning the disenfranchisement laws in Florida, California, Georgia, and other states.
The Sentencing Project, and the studies conducted by Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza, are evidently funded by grants from foundations with political aspirations and agendas leaning far left of center. These politically motivated studies are an indication of an increased spending on criminal justice policy research aimed at attempting to secure more votes from a demographic, which, by the standards of law, have given up certain rights and privileges by committing criminal acts against society.
In decades past, political candidates running for office could be seen kissing and coddling the babies of potential voters in an attempt to secure their votes. If The Sentencing Project, Uggen and Manza, George Soros, and the ACLU have their way, politicians of the not-so-distant future may stoop to pressing-the-flesh with convicted thieves, murderers, and rapists.