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Justice Reform
A highly debated topic in the United States is the laws forbidding convicted individuals, or those with a criminal past, the right to vote in elections. It creates unfair election outcomes as a high percentage of the United States population does not get a say in who is elected. The Sentencing Project stated that 6 million Americans were unable to vote in the 2018 midterms because they had a felony conviction. This is a significant number of voices unheard in America that are most effected by election outcomes. However, some states are hoping to change this. The Guardian posted an article about how Washington D.C. is working on becoming the first state to allow those with felony convictions to vote.

With this new measure in place and being passed by the city council last week, 4,500 people could be affected in Washington D.C.. “I am hopeful that the District’s action will inspire states to recognize the value of universal suffrage and the engagement of all its citizens,” said Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy at the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform group. The United States has some of the strictest voting policies compared to other countries in the world. Some states do have laws that after a certain period of time, convicted individuals are able to vote, but this is not popular in most. Over the years, people have been advocating more to restore voting rights for people released from prison. They deserve a second chance and to have a say in who represents them in the government.

This Washington D.C. measure is unique though, by working on restoring voting rights while the individual is still incarcerated. The District is following in the footsteps of Maine and Vermont, as they are the only two states that allow those convicted of felonies to vote in prison. There is hope that the new law will be approved by the Washington D.C. mayor, Muriel Bowser, to continue to fight for justice reform for those in and out of prison. Many previously convicted felons work hard to turn their lives around post-incarceration and deserve to be able to vote, without their past actions continuing to haunt them.
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Justice Reform

Understaffing of jails and prisons is a major issue many states are facing. An article published by the Justice Center, The Council of State Governments, highlights these staffing shortages. Prison guards are being worn down as many of them have to work overtime and double shifts. This influences their health and cognitive ability to properly do their jobs, ultimately affecting the way prisoners are treated and supervised. One high-profile case that brought up the issue of understaffing in prisons, was Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide in a Manhattan prison. The night of his death, the two prison guards were working overtime because one was required to do so and the other volunteered to for extra pay. 

Prisons have a hard time recruiting guards as it is a taxing job, one that can result in harm and usually has a lower salary; all which can steer people away from applying for the job. Because of these factors, prisons are suffering greatly to recruit prison guards and fill these positions. Prisons are trying to come up with creative ways to recruit and make the benefits more enticing. They are starting to recruit through social media, increasing salaries, taking donations, improving staff training and adding staff wellness initiatives. In addition, prisons and jails are trying to reduce overcrowding by taking less inmates in the hopes of not overwhelming guards. 

It is crucial that the under staffing of jails and prisons be addressed. It poses a threat to all inmates as guards can be short tempered and worn down, which places everyone involved in their line of duty, including themselves, at risk. With more guards able to control the situation, inmates receive better care and prison violence can be reduced.

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