AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Greater than 2 million People are presently incarcerated. And whereas most of them can’t vote, that does not imply that they don’t seem to be following politics. To seek out out what individuals in jail take into consideration at present’s points, The Marshall Undertaking and Slate did one thing that has by no means been accomplished earlier than – they performed a survey throughout a whole lot of jails and prisons throughout the nation. And thus far, they’ve acquired greater than 8,000 responses. People who find themselves incarcerated weighed in on questions on the whole lot from their political affiliations to the minimal wage, and now The Marshall Undertaking is able to share among the survey’s outcomes.
So I’m joined now by two of the individuals engaged on it, Lawrence Bartley and Nicole Lewis. Welcome.
NICOLE LEWIS: Thanks for having us.
LAWRENCE BARTLEY: Thanks.
CHANG: So Lawrence, I wish to begin with you as a result of I perceive that you simply spent – what? – greater than 20 years in jail. Did I get that proper?
BARTLEY: Twenty-seven years and two months.
BARTLEY: Not that I used to be counting.
CHANG: Effectively, now you’re the director of Information Inside, which is a print publication produced by The Marshall Undertaking for people who find themselves incarcerated. Inform me why you suppose a survey like that is necessary.
BARTLEY: As a result of individuals in jail are invisible. They consider that no matter they suppose they usually say does not rely to the general public at massive, but a variety of them have turned a nook or did a 180 from who they was, and a few of them are literally individuals who did not commit crimes in any respect. And so they simply wish to be invited again into society in any method, and this survey provides them a possibility to take an element within the political course of, even when it is simply by way of a survey.
CHANG: OK. And simply to be clear, this was not, like, a proper scientific ballot of the jail inhabitants; this was a voluntary survey. And Nicole, on condition that, was there something you realized from these survey responses that shocked both of you?
LEWIS: There are a number of key issues, one being that folks in jail should not a monolith. And so typically the dialog round felony disenfranchisement is framed as a partisan subject. And so conservative media and Republicans typically say, oh, this may undoubtedly assist the Democrats. However we discovered that that does not appear to be the case. You recognize, individuals are – recognized as Democrats, individuals recognized as Republicans and, once more, as independents. And so of us in jail should not a monolith by any means.
CHANG: How did that break down, roughly, the partisan make-up of the individuals who responded?
LEWIS: What we discovered was that the occasion affiliations tracked very, very intently to race. And so by and huge, black respondents recognized as Democrats or independents, and white respondents recognized as Republicans or independents. And each teams – for each teams, independents have been overrepresented or type of extra represented than in most of the people.
CHANG: OK, in order that’s how their political affiliations broke down. However what else did you find out about their degree of engagement in jail?
LEWIS: So we discovered that the longer individuals spent in jail, the extra politically engaged they have been. And this was not merely a perform of rising older, proper? So you are not simply getting older in jail and turning into wiser; there was one thing in regards to the expertise of jail that was politicizing. And so for individuals who’d spent a number of a long time behind bars, they mentioned that they have been extra motivated to vote, spoke about politics extra. They have been simply type of fascinated by these points differently than individuals who’d solely been in a couple of years.
CHANG: Oh, fascinating. So the longer they have been incarcerated, the extra strongly they could have felt about what was happening within the wider world.
LEWIS: That is appropriate.
BARTLEY: Sure. And that occurred to me. You recognize, after I was incarcerated, I used to be younger. I used to be an adolescent. And all I may take into consideration is that this factor that occurred to me. I am sentenced to this lengthy sentence or my mother and father are upset or I am in a harmful state of affairs. I heard rumors about jail. However as years went on, I started to comprehend that politicians – these are those that set the legal guidelines and the principles and the sentence tips.
CHANG: You recognize, listening to from individuals in jail now feels particularly related. In Florida – proper? – like, individuals convicted of felonies lately received the suitable to vote. However since that modification handed, there have been efforts by Republican lawmakers to complicate their entry. So what do you suppose individuals engaged on each side of that subject in Florida can be taught out of your survey thus far?
LEWIS: I believe one of the vital necessary takeaways right here is that felony disenfranchisement shouldn’t be merely a partisan subject; this is a matter about democracy and who will get to take part, proper? These are civil rights points. And in order of the final presidential election, there have been about 6.1 million individuals who have been barred from voting due to a felony conviction. And so once we take into consideration the sheer scale of the variety of people who find themselves simply not in a position to forged a poll, now we have to ask the query of what does that actually imply by way of what points get supported by politicians, you understand, what communities are mirrored within the values that – you understand, the extent of dialog that now we have.
BARTLEY: Yeah. Since Modification four was handed, giving previously incarcerated individuals the suitable to vote in Florida, there’s been a variety of politicians working to do something to stifle that. And Republicans, who’re largely making an attempt to cease individuals from voting in Florida, they are often lessening their very own numbers as a result of they could possibly be Republicans who they’re stopping from voting. And that is what this survey reveals.
CHANG: Lawrence Bartley is the director of Information Inside, and Nicole Lewis is a employees author with The Marshall Undertaking. Thanks to each of you.
LEWIS: Nice to be with you.
BARTLEY: Thanks. Transcript supplied by NPR, Copyright NPR.