Should people convicted of criminal offenses in the past be able to vote?
Florida has one of the most uncompromising systems in the country when it comes to voter rights. It is one of three states (besides Kentucky and Iowa), where such restrictions are provided: a lifetime ban on voting for all convicts Currently, the only way for someone charged with a criminal offense to regain his right to vote is to ask the governor for pardon.
The fourth amendment will automatically restore the right to vote for those convicted of criminal offenses (after serving the sentence), including jail and parole. This change will affect 1.5 million Florida residents, according to the Brennan Justice Center. But the initiative makes two exceptions: the amendment will not apply to people convicted of murder or sexual offenses.
One of the activists is the former convict Angel Sanchez. He is a former gang member from Miami, who spent 12 years in a Florida prison for attempted murder and robbery. Now he lives not far from the place where, as a child, he was hiding from shooting in the street. Only now he is a second year student.
I lost my right to vote for life, before I even had the opportunity to exercise my right to vote. I was not mature enough to vote, but mature enough to lose it for life.
Coral Nichols also can not vote. She is the Vice President of Empower to Change Inc., an assistance program for those who suffer from homelessness, human trafficking and the criminal justice system. Before she ran a non-profit foundation decorated with inspirational quotes, she served five years in a Florida state prison for theft and fraud. Prior to that, she voted in all presidential elections.
We are all born with the need to belong to something, so many children fall into gangs. Voting makes it possible to say that you belong to a society, you belong to a culture.
We believe that when people serve their sentences and pay their debts to the public on the orders of a judge, they should have a say. Floridians are constantly excluded from voting because of prior criminal charges. If we want people returning to society to be productive, law-abiding citizens, we must treat them as full-fledged citizens.
We support the second chance campaign in Florida, which will return the right to vote to the Floridians, who paid their debts to the public in full. This will make our society more secure, our system more fair and provide real second chances for returning citizens.