Last updated on: 1/5/2009 | Author:

S. David Mitchell, JD Biography

Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado Department of Sociology
Pro to the question "Should People Who Have Completed Felony Sentences Be Allowed to Vote?"

“Felon disenfranchisement laws violate the tenets of criminal law theory, and undermine citizenship for the individual ex-felon and the communities to which ex-felons belong….

To impose a permanent ban or to require an additional waiting period on the quintessential element of citizenship, the right to vote, is to deny that which is given by birth or achieved by naturalization — citizenship. The right to vote has been jealously guarded since the founding of the United States.

It has taken constitutional amendments and legislative acts for all groups to be granted the right to vote, and thereby recognized as full citizenships. Legally, African-Americans have achieved the status of citizen. Practically, African-Americans have to continue to fight obstacles set up to deny their citizenship. Historically, in a number of United States’ jurisdictions, African-Americans have had to challenge poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, whites-only primaries, and felon disenfranchisement laws, all designed to prohibit them from voting and thus negate their citizenship.

All of the other forms of disenfranchisement have fallen by the wayside, save one — felon disenfranchisement laws.”

“The New Invisible Man: Felon Disenfranchisement Laws Harm Communities,” Bad Subjects, Dec. 2004

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado Department of Sociology, 2004-present
  • Board Member, Jessup International Moot Court, 2001-2002
  • Fontaine Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, 1997-1999, 2001-2002
  • Editor, Hybrid Journal of Law and Social Change, University of Pennsylvania, 1999-2002
  • Instructor at a Philadelphia high school, 1999-2001
  • Recipient of the 2005 Alpha Kappa Delta Award for “Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Service to the Students of Sociology”
  • PhD Candidate, Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 2000-Present
  • JD, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 2002
  • MA, Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 1999
  • BA, Sociology, Brown University, 1991
  • None found