CHILLING EFFECTS: The influence of partner incarceration on political participation
The prevalence of criminal justice involvement among low-income minority men has had many negative and often unforeseen consequences for ex-felons, their families, and their neighborhoods. One consequence felon disenfranchisement laws and low levels of political engagement among ex-felons more generally has measurably altered the outcomes of state and national elections. At the same time, studies in political science more generally provide strong empirical evidence that spouses and partners influence an individual‘s political behavior. Drawing on these two areas of research, this paper considers whether political disengagement among ex-felons has had negative consequences for the voting behavior and political engagement of partners. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Survey, the results find that partner incarceration is negatively associated with voting and political involvement. This association is entirely mediated by a partner‘s voting behaviors and his beliefs about his voting eligibility, regardless of state disenfranchisement laws. The political disengagement of not only ex-felons but also their partners has important implications for theories of social exclusion and the governance of marginalized groups. A large and growing population of the politically disengaged, economically marginal, and socially excluded likely has critical repercussions for US politics, democracy, and our social contract.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2011|
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