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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Part One....Off Paper? No, Not Yet? How Many Years Later? Never?

Part One "How the Right to Vote Can be taken Away Forever" You can't vote, not if you're a person with a Felony Conviction, on Parole or Probation and have not satisfied Monetary Restitution imposed on you by a Court of Law.....of course you knew that....but a whole lot of other people don't.

I didn't know how 'entrapped in legal layers' a person could get in trying to get back their voting rights after leaving prison, not until I did my homework.

I thought that the simple act of writing and requesting your Civil Rights back from your Governor applied to everyone, equally across this land.

Hard enough to do that sometimes. But I didn't realize that you could write your Governor, if your State requires it and still not be approved....for years.

I did not realize that you, in your State, would have to wait year after year for your name to come up to a select panel. But that didn't mean you were returned your Voting Rights.

I had no idea how many different States do it, well, so....differently. I couldn't imagine restricting this subject to one post....and actually I am not sure how many parts I might wind up with.

History, even a few years back will serve to create the foundation that we are facing today....See this link......July 13, 2005 -- STATE GOP CHAIR RIPS CLINTON'S VOTING RIGHTS SCHEME Wednesday, July 05, 2006 New York GOP ~ The Felon - The Vote - The Agenda......This is how the then toxic GOP fear mongers were spinning the reason to not give back the right to vote to anyone with a felony. Purely spinning the worst of criminal behavior, the most extreme side of crime and using that to spread the blanket of discrimination over all convicted felons.

Being "Off Paper" first of all sounds odd to me. It made me think of someone being on paper, then how do you potty train a puppy -- on the paper and then I thought who ever came up with that phrase must've needed some kind of demeaning term to emphasize the return of ones lost civil rights, after serving their time under a felony conviction.

It sounds simple enough, do your time, come back to society, contribute to by the law of society. Well, if a person had a pubic defender, an overwhelmed one at that, the person just may end up paying their debt to society for the rest of their life, over and over. Never really getting a chance to be a full partner of functioning society, and therefore living on the edge of society, in a sort of eclipse, day in and day out.

Yes, some people will never be ready to live in society as an independent responsible citizen. But there are far more individuals who would be that model citizen, if they were given the chance. I won't get side tracked with a few things that I noticed as I was researching the subject of registering a person with a felony conviction, to vote.

I do need to make this one observation, just about everywhere I looked I came across the fact that "monetary retribution" seems to be the most favorite part of a legal team to attach to a persons sentence and a favorite of judges who sign off on those cases. Imposing monetary retribution on someone who will barely make ends meet in the world of needed necessity, after incarceration and barely make any viable wage in the world of work, seems absurd.

On March 26, 2006, the trial court ruled that the Washington statute that required felons to satisfy all legal financial obligations in order to be reinstated to their right to vote was unconstitutional. Although the State clearly had the right to disenfranchise felons, legislation that created conditions under which felons could be restored to their civil rights was subject to an analysis of whether the terms of the statute were rationally related to its purpose. from Project Vote

And if you've ever been struggling poor, struggling homeless and struggling hungry.....monetary sanctions don't hold the weight that the court seems to think it does. What world do they live in? What happened to reasonable community service that fits the crime within the released prisoners ability, the crime the person was charged, judged, imprisoned and paroled / probationed by?

Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder By Lorinda Bullock NNPA National Correspondent writes.....States taking a Closer Look at Ex-Felon Voter Rights. Ryan King who wrote a Decade of Reform: Felony Disenfranchisement Policy in the United States, believes that 5 million additional voices would have made a difference in the 2004 elections. He says Florida, Kentucky and Virginia are the least willing to relax their felony voting laws. And 1 in 12 African Americans are disenfranchised because of convictions...5 times higher than non-African Americans. This article was written October 2006 and we are slowly moving to one year later, to October 2007.

I noticed tons of information going back to 2004 and earlier. One report I came across was dated January 2002 by Services Integration: Strengthening Offenders and Families, While Promoting Community Health and Safety Shelli Rossman, The Urban Institute. This paper was produced for a conference funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on January 30-31, 2002. Times change and tone does too. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has changed.

From the American Civil Liberties Union....On Tuesday, November 7, Rhode Island voters approved Question 2 on the state ballot, a measure that removed the ban on voting by people with felony convictions on parole and probation. The referendum had been placed on the ballot by the state legislature, and received broad support in the state. Rhode Island now joins Massachusetts and New Hampshire in automatically restoring voting rights upon release from prison.

Minnesota is one of the states that restore's voting rights back to the individual, as soon as they are 'Off Paper' and that could very well mean another umpteen years without their complete Civil Rights, without their right to Vote.

The person, I am told, may never be told how to regain their right to vote either. Could be an accident, could be intentional. But what ever the reason, not to tell the person, there is nothing that person can do until they are completely 'off paper'.

Depending on when that person has satisfied their sentence, including parole, including other stipulations handed down by the court, that person is made to wait on the edge of society, before voting again. The First Step.....from the MNCN....
Minnesota Participation Project: Registering Ex-Felons to Vote.
When a person is convicted of a felony they lose their civil rights. What many people don’t know is that as soon as they complete their sentence, including probation, their civil rights are reinstated. ..theres more to this....

more to come in part two....

#1 Blog Public Service Announcement - Help Erase That Felony and Vote Again.... Thursday, May 31, 2007

Part 1 - Part One....Off Paper? No, Not Yet? How Many Years Later? Never? Saturday, June 02, 2007

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