The main theory behind retributive punishment is that "someone who has violated the rights of others should be penalized, and punishment restores the moral order that has been breached by the original wrongful act" [citing Ken Greenwalt's article, "Punishment," in the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice]. Retribution is also seen in terms of fairness to the law-abiding citizen. Under John Locke's concept of the social compact, "[a] man who breaks the laws he has authorized his agent to make for his own governance could fairly have been thought to have abandoned the right to participate in further administering the compact" [citing Green v. Board of Elections]. Under the retributive theory of punishment, those who break the law should not be allowed to participate in making the law, whether as a voter or as a political officer.Later on, Steinacker quotes from another important felon disenfranchisement case, Texas Supporters of Workers World Party Presidential Candidates v. Strake:
"The State has a valid interest in ensuring that the rules of its society are made by those who have not shown an unwillingness to abide by those rules."If you note carefully, neither of these quotes really explains why the rulebreaker, as it were, has abandoned the right. It's merely presumed to be "fair" and "valid."
So, here's the question: why? Why is it fair and valid to presume that disenfranchisement is a logical or natural consequence of violating the social contract? In other words, does an argument to the social contract really run deep enough?
Update: Mr. Kuznicki provides an answer.