Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Restoring the Civil Rights of Ex-Felons

Mark Twain claimed that when the end of the world came, he wanted to be in Kentucky because everything happened ten years later here. In the case of restoring Civil Rights to ex-felons, he just might have been right. Only three states disenfranchise all ex-felons. It is time for Kentucky to change that. Please urge your legislator to co-sponsor and support the Restoration of Voting Rights Act. On March 2, tomorrow, there is a rally in Frankfort. If you can't attend, call your legislator and ask him/her to let the citizens of Kentucky vote on changing Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution.

Just in case you don't spend all your time reading our constitution, Section 145 states that persons convicted of a felony are not entitled to vote unless their civil rights are restored through an executive pardon by the Governor. In 2001, the Kentucky General Assembly tried to simplify the process of restoring civil rights. It hasn't been particularly effective. The Governor requires a written statement from the applicant, three character references, and a review by the prosecutor in the county of residence and the county where the offense was commited. So, before it was simplified, did the ex-felon have to offer up their first-born child to have civil rights again?

Forgive me for being a bit tongue-in-cheek over this issue, but there are over 100,000 ex-fellons who have served their sentence and rejoined the community. I met some of them while I was out registering voters during the last election season, and talked with them about the problems they face in getting voting rights restored. Most give up on voting and on becoming active citizens. We have a choice here: we can lift people up, or pull them down. If you believe in lifting these people up to the role of citizen, let your voice be heard in Frankfort. A phone call from you could make a difference in 100,000 lives.


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