Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Gregory Williams


The purpose of this study is to re-examine the policy of felon disenfranchisement through analysis of its historical lineage from the Jim Crow Era to the contemporary era of Black Lives Matter. Review of previous research indicates a race bias in its early implementation meant to prevent Blacks from exercising the right to vote both before and after the Fifteenth Amendment in 1780. Disenfranchisement is understood to prevent the exercise of full United States citizenship for felons and ex-felons who are disproportionately Black. Through a constructivist research paradigm, this critical interpretivist study will seek to further understand the socially constructed environments associated with the development of felon disenfranchisement to better understand the policy as it applies today. Primary and secondary sources that address the social attitudes surrounding race and felon disenfranchisement will be interpreted through the lens of critical race theory. This provides a new interpretation of historical race relations in the United States and of the racially disproportionate disenfranchisement of current Black United States Citizens. I expect this research will conclude a connection between the social construction of attitudes towards race relations in the United States and the use of felon disenfranchisement to disenfranchise Blacks throughout its historical lineage. This research attempts to use this information to better understand the continuation and causation of contemporary race relations and the policy of felon disenfranchisement.

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