Should a Felony Conviction be a Factor?

From MSN:

The city of Markham, Illinois, has elected a convicted felon as its new mayor, prompting the county’s state’s attorney to vow to remove him from office.

Roger Agpawa pleaded guilty to felony mail fraud in a federal medical insurance case in 1999. He is currently the fire chief of neighboring Country Club Hills and won Tuesday’s mayoral election in Markham, a suburb south of Chicago.

By law, his felony conviction prevents him from holding some municipal offices barring a presidential pardon, CBS Chicago reports.

Cook County State’s Attorney says she will try to remove him.

A felony can have a devastating impact on a person’s civic rights, career and life choices.  I feel this stands in stark contrast to the idea that once a person has served his/her time, they have a right to build their lives.

I’m also somewhat conflicted. I have a tough time with convicted sex offenders, as an example, being able to get back to a normal routine without there being some safeguard for children – but that is one of the very few examples that come to my mind of justified consequences being in place after “time served”.

When one also considers how people of color are disproportionately affected by our justice system and the impact this has on communities of color, the issue becomes more pressing.

Do we, as a society really buy into the idea of forgiveness and second chances? Have we come to terms with the very real fact that our system of justice runs into some very real problems when it comes to race and class?

Image By User:Continentaleurope,  C BY-SA 3.0,

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