Pubdate: Sat, 19 Oct 2002
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2002 The New York Times Company
Author: Anthony Papa
Bookmark: (Rockefeller Drug Laws)


To the Editor:

Re "Former Felons Have a Right to Vote" (editorial, Oct. 17):

I was a first-time nonviolent offender who served 12 years under the 
Rockefeller drug laws of New York State. When I was released on parole, I 
could not vote. This was a great blow to my self-esteem.

My South Bronx neighborhood was deteriorating, and there were many 
community issues I wanted to voice my opinion on through the vote. But I 
couldn't. I felt the pain of felony disenfranchisement and was being 
further punished for my crime.

I waited five years until I got off parole to cast my first vote. I felt 
elated to do so. I was finally accepted by society in my capacity as a 
citizen. The right to vote is an important part of the rehabilitation 
process and should be given to those who have paid their debt to society.

Anthony Papa, New York, Oct. 17, 2002
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