Citizens Behind Bars

Dirk Ahlgrim  -  Cambridge MA, USA


ENGAGEMENT: How might we... design for an inclusive society?

It is the year 2028. Almost 3% of the US population is in prison. Most felons are denied civic rights, including the right to vote. This means that a high proportion of low-income communities and minorities are not being heard, leading to an overall misrepresentation of the US public’s opinion. In order to rectify this situation, in 2026 Maine and Vermont installed voting devices on election day to allow convicted felons to cast their vote. These devices can be temporarily attached to the cell bars, allowing prisoners to provide identification and to cast their vote. This year marks a watershed year, as all other states have decided to install voting devices too.

However, this is a symptomatic solution. Discussions on how to lower the proportion of the US population in prison—which is high even compared to Russia and China—have not yet begun.