ABC Touts Jailed Murderer Elected in DC, Lobbies for Prisoners to Vote


At the end of ABC’s This Week on Sunday, fill-in moderator Jonathan Karl gushed over “an historic election here in Washington, D.C.” of a convicted – and still incarcerated – murderer to local office in the city. The host hailed the development as “charting a new course for voting rights and racial justice” while introducing a report that radically lobbied for convicted felons still in prison to be allowed to vote.

“After 27 years behind bars, Joel Caston is seeking redemption through politics,” announced senior Washington correspondent Devin Dwyer. With the headline on screen cheering, “Incarcerated Felon Wins Groundbreaking Election,” the reporter gushed: “The 44-year-old felon convicted for murder as a teenager became D.C.’s newest elected public servant this summer, winning a groundbreaking campaign for neighborhood commissioner on the city’s southeast side.”

 

 

Dwyer noted that Caston’s “constituents are fellow inmates in D.C. jail,” before explaining: “All casting ballots in a local election that’s pushing the boundaries of voting rights and racial justice. D.C. last year joined just Maine and Vermont as the only places in America that prisoners can vote.”

He then lamented: “Less than one percent of the nation’s estimated 1.8 million incarcerated residents has the right to cast a ballot from behind bars, setting the U.S. apart from many other democracies.” A soundbite followed of left-wing Georgetown University professor Marc Howard proclaiming: “In other words, in most places you don’t lose your humanity, you don’t lose your civil rights, social rights, political rights when you’re incarcerated.”

Apparently the liberal academic didn’t understand that the very act of being in prison causes criminals to lose many of their “civil rights” as punishment.

Dwyer tried to bolster Howard’s leftist advocacy: “…a leading advocate for felon voting rights, [he] says it’s also an issue of racial justice. One in 16 black American adults is disenfranchised because of a conviction, a rate 3.7 times higher than among non-blacks.” Howard pleaded: “Ultimately, this is about human beings with the right to express themselves. And I think that voting is a really fundamental right that they should have.”

“Caston is now the first incarcerated American elected to office with votes from incarcerated peers,” Dwyer cheered. The correspondent then turned to the prison inmate turned politician and wondered: “You oversee everything from liqueur license approvals, to sidewalk repair, to public safety. Can you credibly advocate for public safety from in here?” The convicted killer replied: “I can. I believe that my story, my campaign is giving a lens to individuals who may not have considered this as being a viable option to obtain public safety.”

Dwyer finally mentioned that “enfranchisement of felons remains highly controversial,” and pointed out how “Many Republicans opposed House Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill, HR-1, this spring, in part because it would have restored the vote to millions of ex-felons.”

However, those concerns were brushed aside as Dwyer wrapped up the fawning segment:

The family of the victim in Caston’s case has given its full endorsement, in a statement to ABC News saying, “We believe in forgiveness! And hope Joel will do good work in the community.” His constituents told us Commissioner Caston, who expects to be paroled by the end of the year, is already inspiring them to be better citizens.

Following clips of Caston’s fellow prisoners heaping praise upon him, Karl added his own: “Thank you to Devin Dwyer for that amazing story of redemption.”

While there’s certainly a case to be made for restoring voting rights to criminals who have served their time and shown signs of reform, granting current prison inmates the right to not only vote in elections, but run as candidates in those contests, is exclusively a priority of the far left. ABC News has no problem selling that radical agenda to its viewers.

This attempt to canvass for votes in prisons was brought to viewers by CarMax and Disney. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a full transcript of the August 1 segment:

9:53 AM ET

JONATHAN KARL: Fifty-six years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. He called it a triumph for freedom, as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield.

Today, the promise of that law is under intense political debate. But as our Devin Dwyer reports, an historic election here in Washington, D.C. this summer is charting a new course for voting rights and racial justice.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Incarcerated Felon Wins Groundbreaking Election]

JOEL CASTON [DC INMATE, ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSIONER]: Can anybody in this circle relate to loss of freedom?

DEVIN DWYER [ABC NEWS SENIOR WASHINGTON REPORTER]: After 27 years behind bars, Joel Caston is seeking redemption through politics.

CASTON: I noticed that, wait a minute, not only can we vote, we can also run for office.

DWYER: The 44-year-old felon convicted for murder as a teenager became D.C.’s newest elected public servant this summer, winning a groundbreaking campaign for neighborhood commissioner on the city’s southeast side.

CASTON: It sounds great to have an official title. I must admit that. However, what it feels like is that now I have to deliver.

DWYER: His constituents are fellow inmates in D.C. jail.

How many of y’all voted?

All casting ballots in a local election that’s pushing the boundaries of voting rights and racial justice. D.C. last year joined just Maine and Vermont as the only places in America that prisoners can vote.

COLIE LAVAR LONG [DC INMATE]: When I actually put a check in that box and actually said that he won and this is the person I voted for, it like reaffirmed that, you know, I am worthy to be back in society.

DWYER: Less than one percent of the nation’s estimated 1.8 million incarcerated residents has the right to cast a ballot from behind bars, setting the U.S. apart from many other democracies.

MARC HOWARD [DIR, GEORGETOWN UNIV. PRISONS & JUSTICE INITIATIVE]: In other words, in most places you don’t lose your humanity, you don’t lose your civil rights, social rights, political rights when you’re incarcerated.

DWYER: Georgetown Professor Marc Howard, a leading advocate for felon voting rights, says it’s also an issue of racial justice. One in 16 black American adults is disenfranchised because of a conviction, a rate 3.7 times higher than among non-blacks.

HOWARD: Ultimately, this is about human beings with the right to express themselves. And I think that voting is a really fundamental right that they should have.

DWYER: Caston is now the first incarcerated American elected to office with votes from incarcerated peers.

How can you represent a group of people, a community, when you’re cut off from a big segment of that community?

CASTON: A lot of meetings, a lot of engagement has taken place over Zoom. So now, as the NC commissioner, one of the things I do have access to is a computer.

DWYER: You oversee everything from liqueur license approvals, to sidewalk repair, to public safety. Can you credibly advocate for public safety from in here?

CASTON: I can. I believe that my story, my campaign is giving a lens to individuals who may not have considered this as being a viable option to obtain public safety.

DWYER: But enfranchisement of felons remains highly controversial.

REP. GREG MURPHY [R-NC]: It’s called punishment. Punishment for their crime.

DWYER: Many Republicans opposed House Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill, HR-1, this spring, in part because it would have restored the vote to millions of ex-felons. While 21 states automatically return voting rights after release, 16 withhold the vote through periods of probation or parole, and 11 more suspend the vote indefinitely for some crimes.

CASTON: Oftentimes we would just cast off individuals who are inside incarcerated spaces and think that he or she does not have a value. I believe that my story demonstrates that, yes, we do have value.

DWYER: The family of the victim in Caston’s case has given its full endorsement, in a statement to ABC News saying, “We believe in forgiveness! And hope Joel will do good work in the community.” His constituents told us Commissioner Caston, who expects to be paroled by the end of the year, is already inspiring them to be better citizens.

AHMAAD NELMS [DC INMATE]: The thing I would like for Joel to do is continue to make the impossible possible.

DIEGO LOPEZ [DC INMATE]: Because it helps young men to become better people.

RICHARD BYRD [DC INMATE]: And break the back of this pipeline that’s feeding our young black kids to the system.

LONG: You know, he’s inspired that we’re more than inmates. You know, we are fathers, we are sons, we are brothers and also we are politicians. Thank you, Joel. [Applause]

KARL: Thank you to Devin Dwyer for that amazing story of redemption.



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