Pubdate: Sun, 10 Aug 2003
Source: Press Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2003, The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Jodi James


Your July 31 editorial, "Wrong to vote," stated that Democrats would
benefit from the restoration of voting rights to felons. But you have
failed to grasp what disenfranchisement means to ex-offenders.

The issue of rights restoration should be about people, not politics.
You talk about murderers getting to vote, but fail to mention
thousands of nonviolent offenders who committed felonies, fulfilled
the court requirements, and now can't hold a state license to be a
barber or do air-conditioning repair because of disenfranchisement.

The issue is not what party a former offender will join; the issue
should be restoring ex-offenders to a productive place in society.

Today, a young person convicted of possessing less then an ounce of
marijuana is a felon. As a felon, he can't vote, will lose eligibility
for many college scholarships and cannot hold many state occupational

Currently, only the governor's office has the authority to restore
civil rights, and the process most often takes years to complete.

Most ex-offenders won't join a party or register to vote. They would
have an opportunity to rise above their crime, find better jobs and be
a more productive member of their community.

JODI JAMES executive director,

Florida Cannabis Action Network

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