Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2012—2013 Forum on Peripheries
The Black Codes: The Modern Legacy of Felon Disenfranchisement in the South
My project explores the modern legacy of felon disenfranchisement in the South. Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida each permanently disenfranchise ex-felons who commit certain crimes, leading to scenarios where, for example, burglary of an automobile is permanently disenfranchising in Alabama, but not in Mississippi, although theft of an automobile is permanently disenfranchising in both. These crimes are historical remnants of the Black Codes, where Southern legislators sought to disenfranchise black freedman by targeting supposedly "black" crimes. In the last decade, both Mississippi and Alabama have expanded the list of disenfranchising crimes, and Florida, after its critical role in the 2000 election, has continued to massively limit restoration opportunities. My project seeks to understand whether Southern disenfranchisement policies continue to have a disproportionate racial impact by combining unique criminal justice data with statewide voter files.