US Attorney General Pushes To Restore Voting Rights For Former Felons

February 13, 2014  |  

It has long been a question for many: If a convicted felon has paid their debt to society, why don’t they regain their right to vote? Attorney General Eric Holder is pressuring the Administration to restore voting rights to former felons, calling laws that disenfranchise millions of Americans “unnecessary and unjust.”

They are rooted in “centuries-old conceptions of justice that were too often based on exclusion, animus, and fear,” The Huffington Post continues.

During the last several months, Holder, who believes the policies disparately impact minority communities, has been focused on criminal justice reform.

“By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes,” Holder stated during a recent criminal justice reform event hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at Georgetown University Law Center. “They undermine the reentry process and defy the principles of accountability and rehabilitation that guide our criminal justice policies. And however well-intentioned current advocates of felony disenfranchisement may be, the reality is that these measures are, at best, profoundly outdated.”

Because of current laws, an estimated 5.8 million Americans, more than the individual populations of 31 states, cannot vote, according to Holder. The AG praised Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as a “leader” on the issue of restoring voting rights and called Paul’s “vocal support for restoring voting rights for former inmates shows that this issue need not break down along partisan lines.”

Right now, 11 states restrict voting rights for ex-felons who have served their sentences and are no longer on parole.

“It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values,” Holder said. “These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.”

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