Black caucus disappointed after House kills proposals to restore rights to felons
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus expressed disappointment Tuesday that a House of Delegates subcommittee killed all proposed constitutional amendments that would have automatically restored civil rights to non-violent felons.
A subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections Committee defeated amendments 5-1 Monday that would have allowed residents who had served sentences and paid fines to vote, serve on juries and run for public office.
"The decision made by this subcommittee has once again denied the civil rights of individuals who have paid their debt to society,'' Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) said. "Unfortunately, we have to wait another two years to make this proposal again."
"Citizens deserve a second chance once they have done all that the state has asked them to do for restitution of a non-violent offense,'' Del. Onzlee Ware (D-Roanoke) said. "Why must the punishment continue?"
Under Virginia's Constitution, residents convicted of a felony automatically lose the right to vote, serve on a jury or own a gun. The governor can restore voting rights to those who he thinks have redeemed themselves. About 300,000 felons in Virginia who have served their time have not had their rights restored.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R)is on track to restore voting rights to more felons than either of his Democratic predecessors after revamping the state's process, which included shaving the time nonviolent felons must wait to apply after serving their sentences from three years to two years. But some legislators still prefer an automatic process.
| February 1, 2011; 5:45 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate
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