Felons in America are no Longer Citizens

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American Felons Lose De Facto Citizenship

What makes the difference between a citizen and non-citizen in the United States? A laundry list of arguments can be made to define what makes these differences, but at its core, the definition can be found in the U.S. Constitution.

The Bill of Rights 1Text of the Bill of Rights

contains the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and enumerates what the Declaration of Independence calls “Inalienable Rights” 2 Text of the Declaration of Independenceof all citizens. Specifically, those who are residents and citizens of this country. The Amendments that follow the Bill of Rights expand these rights further.

What happens when a citizen of the U.S. becomes a felon? Answer: many of those inalienable rights become alienated to them. Lets take a closer look at some of these.

The Second Amendment 3The Second Amendment to the US Constitution recognizes that the right to keep and bare arms shall not be infringed. Yet, a felon in the U.S. cannot keep and bare arms legally and the consequences for doing so are dire. 4Simply possessing a firearm as a prohibited person can carry up to 10 years in prison: see Rehaif v. United States, 588 U.S. ____ (2019), where Defendant Rehaif, who was not a felon, but a student who had overstayed his Student Visa, was prosecuted for possessing a firearm as an illegal alien.

The Fourth Amendment 5The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects citizens of the U.S. from unlawful search and seizure. Yet, a felon on or off of probation, parole, or supervision loses the standard of the Fourth Amendment where law enforcement needs only
reasonable suspicion to invade their privacy.

The Fifth Amendment 6The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution protects citizens against self-incrimination. Yet, a felon on probation, parole, or supervision must adhere to rules that require honest answers to their supervising officer or risk violating their supervision. Even if
answering that question would mean incriminating themselves. That is placing a felon between a rock and a hard place: between their Fifth Amendment protections and their rules of supervision. (Defendants on federal probation are now protected from this conflict, as detailed in our post on Conditions of Federal Probation).

The Sixth Amendment 7The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution ensures a speedy and public trial by impartial jury. Is this even possible for somebody with a pre-existing felony record?

The Fifteenth 8The Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution and Nineteenth 9The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution Amendments gives the right to vote to all U.S. Citizens. Yet, felons lose this right (some States, however, are starting to give this one back).

This is a short list and a short article. However, the point is to highlight what makes a man or woman a citizen of the United States. Above are six Amendments to the U.S. Constitution which guarantee rights to citizens of its borders.

These six Amendments do not apply to felons, so the title of this article stands: Felons in America are no longer considered Citizens at all for some of the most fundamental rights associated with American Freedom.

References   [ + ]

1. Text of the Bill of Rights
2. Text of the Declaration of Independence
3. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution
4. Simply possessing a firearm as a prohibited person can carry up to 10 years in prison: see Rehaif v. United States, 588 U.S. ____ (2019), where Defendant Rehaif, who was not a felon, but a student who had overstayed his Student Visa, was prosecuted for possessing a firearm as an illegal alien.
5. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution
6. The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution
7. The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution
8. The Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution
9. The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution

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