Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, HB 70, moves to the floor of the KY House for consideration

Restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, HB 70, is a  measure the Department of Public Advocacy has long supported. The House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee overwhelmingly passed HB 70 out of Committee on Tuesday January 14, 2014. Representative Jesse Crenshaw’s bill allows the people of KY to vote on an amendment to the KY Constitution that would permit felons who have completed their sentence to have their voting rights automatically restored. Exceptions to the measure would be those who've been convicted of violent or sex-related crimes. 

Public Advocate Ed Monahan was present at the hearing to express support. Monahan said, “Public defenders know that the more involved an ex-felon is in their community the lower the recidivism. Participation in voting is a hallmark of our democracy and a critical way to connect people to their communities. We all want to promote rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. There is beginning empirical evidence that those who return from prison and vote in their communities have less recidivism. That makes common sense.” 

People who vote become more a part of the community and have a greater stake in society. Correctional professionals, including the American Probation and Parole Association, support a change in KY’s law.  In 2007, the American Probation and Parole Association formally resolved to support restoration stating, “WHEREAS, disenfranchisement laws work against the successful reentry of offenders. NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Probation and Parole Association advocates the restoration of voting rights upon completion of an offender’s prison sentence and advocates no loss of voting rights while on community supervision.” 

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown is the primary co-sponsor. He testified in support of the legislation. This 54 second cut and wrap spot is of representative Jeff Hoover explaining why he supports a constitutional amendment.