Trump supporters in prison aren’t ALWAYS the ones you might stereotype as his supporters. He has the emotional support of, yes, a lot of the racist and neo-Nazi gangs, but not of white prisoners as a whole [actually, among the ones I’ve talked to, the number is far below 50%]. Most white prisoners today, poor and non-religious, don’t identify with the economic or religio-conservative policies he’s implemented.
Among the whites who do like Trump, a large majority seem to be from the Catholic/Christian groups, and from those whose crimes didn’t involve what I like to refer to as “alternative economic pursuits” (i.e. drugs/prostitution/rackets)…
A surprising number of white supporters are inside prison for rape, child-molestation, fraud, and embezzlement. In these and white-supremacist groups, he enjoys about a 95% approval rate.
Another surprising subgroup of Trump supporters include a lot of the gang-leaders, the higher-ups. Some respect his willingness to take risks, while others see him as something of a bulldog… and they love the bulldogs that are fighting for “us”. Most of the gang-members, black and Latino, I’ve talked to for this piece see one thing above all others that they like in him: “he runs shit like I would run shit.”
MOST prisoners, however, do NOT like or support Trump. This seems to be about the general consensus amongst most convicts, particularly those of color. The majority I’ve talked to see Trump as racist, or at least racially-manipulative, and out-for-himself. Some were impressed by his support for certain criminal justice reforms and for his pardoning of a handful of federal prisoners who had received egregious sentences, but most merely saw this as a political stunt at an opportune time.
If there is one defining political issue among prisoners, it is criminal-justice reform… particularly criminal-justice reform that would specifically help THEM reduce their own sentence. The three largest criminal-justice initiatives that prisoners want to see are changes in sentencing lengths, changes in drug laws, and the repeal of the ATEDPA: the “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.” The latter, despite its name, predominantly affects state prisoners by severely limiting their ability to appeal their sentence in federal courts (regardless of whether the sentence involves the death-penalty). There is a near-universal belief in prisons that a Democratic president (particularly with a Democratic legislature) will effect changes that reform these laws.
Our President-elect, Joe Biden, and Vice-President Kamala Harris, enjoy a sizable majority of support of these non-voting constituents. Very few prisoners I talked to had much of an opinion on Joe Biden other than that he is a Democrat and they support Democrats over Republicans and particularly over Donald Trump. For them, Joe Biden is less “President Biden,” and more “Our Democratic President.” But Vice-President Kamala Harris engenders some strong opinions, the majority of them good, for her achievement as the first black (and female) Vice-President, for her “fierce” and strong responses to Mike Pence in the Vice-Presidential debate (heavily watched in prisons across the country), and for her stances on criminal-justice reform.
In fact, after speaking to nearly 100 prisoners from every demographic for this article, the only specific negatives I heard about her were either racist, from specifically white-supremacist prisoners, or sexist, from members of all demographics [while prison has strong racial divides, it is an even more sexist place].
Most states allow ex-prisoners to vote, either the day they are released from prison (like Michigan) or once their entire sentence is completed and all money owed in fines and restitution paid off (like Florida). If the currently-incarcerated, the only group of adult Americans who don’t possess the right to vote and representing nearly 1% of all Americans, were all immediately released, would it affect the national election results? Probably not, at least not dramatically. Many were proud voters before their incarceration, but just as many were (by necessity or choice) caught up in their lifestyles to vote when they were able to.
The only real “undecideds” are the approximately 10% of all prisoners who never have been represented politically for even a moment of their lives, those who came to prison underage, and came-of-age inside.
Chris Dankovich is serving 25-37 years in Michigan for murdering his mother when he was 15 years old.
Chris Dankovich #595904
Thumb Corr Facility
3225 John Conley Dr
Lapeer, MI 48446