Foreword: Waves of democracy and criminal disenfranchisement

Jeff Manza

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


    The history of democracy is marked by a series of wave-like movements, in which what happens in one place exerts influence in others. The establishment of democracy as a system of governance, with universal suffrage for all citizens (or at least male citizens), is an idea that has been around for approximately 2,500 years. However, although some variant of democracy had been practiced in a handful of polities, it was not until the late 19th century and early 20th century that democracy as a form of government suddenly became popular. The antidemocratic wave that swept Europe and Asia in the 1930s with the rise of fascism did away with free elections; in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new wave of democracy brought the vast majority of countries under its umbrella. The movement of democracy around the globe calls our attention to how political leaders, activists, and jurists learn from one another across national boundaries. The case of the disenfranchisement of criminal offenders is no different. For most of the history of democracy, the idea that criminals could be full members of the polity was nearly unthinkable. In particular, the prevailing view held that criminals had, by their actions, proved themselves incapable of undertaking the responsibilities of citizenship. Virtually all classical political philosophers who reflected on the question reached that conclusion, and early modern legal systems typically stripped criminal offenders of legal and political rights. However, over time, societies have begun to develop a different view of criminal offenders.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationCriminal Disenfranchisement in an International Perspective
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    ISBN (Electronic)9780511576713
    ISBN (Print)9780521875615
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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