Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated People

The Problem: Voter disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people undermines successfully reentry from prison and reduces voting power of entire communities.

The Facts:

  • Over 2 million have completed their sentence of imprisonment, parole, or probation.
  • 600,000 people return home from prison each year.
  • The US has 5% of the world’s population, but 50% of those who are prevented from voting by a criminal conviction reside in US.
  • 1.4 million African American men, or 13% of black men, are disenfranchised; a rate seven times the national average.
  • Maine and Vermont are the only states that allow inmates to vote.

 

Fact Sheet: The Sentencing Project: FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES, March 2010
Sources: Jamie Fellner and Marc Mauer, Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, Human Rights Watch, The Sentencing Project, October 1998;
How to eliminate racial discrimination in jury selections?

Solution: Fully restore the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people one they are released from prison.

The Problem: Voter disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people undermines successfully reentry from prison and reduces voting power of entire communities.

How can we restore the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people? Policy reforms at the state level must be geared to fully restoring voting rights of formerly incarcerated. This will take state by state advocacy.

—Call to Action—

In order to restore the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people at the State level, the NAACP units must organize state policy efforts that changes laws that prohibit voting rights for returning citizens.

— Call to Action Components —

Public Hearings- Organize public hearings to educate members of the community about the im- pact of voter disenfranchisement on individuals and entire communities. Focus discussions on how communities can better vote for and get the things it needs when everybody has the right to vote.

Engage Formerly Incarcerated People to Join the Effort- Conduct outreach efforts that specifically target formerly incarcerated people.
Encourage them to join the NAACP and fight for their rights.

Organize a coalition– Identify leaders and partners to join your efforts and establish a coalition that will fight for voting rights for formerly incarcerated people. If the vote rights coalition already exist, meet with the leaders and join if possible.

Increase Public Awareness: Develop a public awareness campaign on the need for formerly in- carcerated people to have the right to vote. Voter disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people undermines the political power of the entire community.

Advance Policy Options: Take your campaign to state lawmakers and work to pass laws that will give formerly incarcerated people their right to vote.

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