Posted by: birdsongslaw | July 14, 2008

Recent Info On The Issue of Voting Rights For Former Felons


Birdsong often receives updates from The Sentencing Project concerning what is  Known as felony disenfranchisement.  Many states, including Florida, have laws that make formerly incarcerated felons ineligible to vote.  Florida recently eased restrictions to allow felons to petition to have  their voting rights restored.  The Sentencing Project is a  Washington, D.C. nonprofit group that advocates  and champions sentencing reform and  restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated felons in the  U.S.

You may find their latest information sent to me informative.


From:                              The Sentencing Project []

Sent:                               Friday, July 11, 2008 4:11 PM

To:                                   Birdsong, Leonard E.

Subject:                          Disenfranchisement: News/Updates






July 11, 2008

Disenfranchisement: News/Updates



Florida: Clock Running Down for Eligible Formerly Incarcerated Individuals to Register to Vote



Governor Charlie Crist’s decision to ease the restoration process for certain formerly incarcerated individuals last year was expected to impact between 250,000 and 300,000 citizens. However, the actual number of restored voters may be about 115,000 once the clemency board signs all the certificates, according to the Florida Parole Commission. Many barriers have slowed the process, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The Parole Commission suffered financial setbacks and has decreased staff despite a backlog of 60,000 restoration requests. And despite law enforcement and corrections agencies’ efforts to send restoration certificates to formerly incarcerated citizens, many have been returned as undeliverable.
“There are just too many impediments, and it doesn’t seem like easy solutions are being adopted,” said Florida ACLU attorney Muslima Lewis, who runs the group’s efforts on restoration of rights. The ACLU and the People for the American Way Foundation have sponsored civil rights seminars and printed posters promoting a toll-free helpline, but funding was pulled last year. “We’re looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Sharon Lettman with People for the American Way Foundation. “At the end of the day, if they haven’t seen our public service announcement on television or if they haven’t seen a newspaper, they may not find out they can vote.” Voters have until July 28 to register in time for the August 26 primary. For additional news, read Capitol News Service coverage.








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  1. I understand all the arguments regarding the policy of not allowing felons to vote. For example, murderers took away the civil rights of their victims, therefore their own civil rights should be taken away.

    However, I think a much more important policy and philosophical reason for allowing felons, even those in jail, the right to vote exists.

    Laws are decided by the elected, and those appointed by, elected officials. Those officials make the law. Voters, therefore, indirectly make the law. It is a detrimental self-fulfilling prophecy to cut off from law-making decisions, those who broke a law. Unjust laws will be furthered if those convicted of breaking them lose their major tool of expression.

    Take an extreme illustration: Let’s say there was a law against protesting slavery. All protestors would be felons and have their right to vote taken away, thus furthering the unjust laws.

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