Should Convicted Felons Be Able To Vote

Reported by: Aaron Adelson
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Updated: 2/28/2013 6:27 pm

Kentucky is one of only four states in the country that does not automatically restore convicted felons' right to vote after they finish parole. 

Last week the state House of Representatives voted 75-25 in favor of HB-70.  This is a bill to create a constitutional amendment to give convicted felons their voting rights back once they finish parole.

"I feel as though if you got a voice, then it should be heard," said Gregory Evans, convicted Felon.

He voted in 2008.

"My opinion counted some way some how," said Evans.

But then he was convicted of facilitating a robbery, and sentenced to 10 years.  He wants to vote again in the future.

"I'm being basically punished for my crimes now.  I think when I get out, I complete parole, I shouldn't still be punished for the crimes I committed," said Evans.

Richard Kyle spent the last two years locked up.  The 22-year-old says he received a 5-year sentence for receiving stolen property.  He's never voted, but wants to.

"We're not all bad people.  We've all made mistakes in our lives.  We're being punished for it now.  we've become better people while we're in here, and I believe that should not affect our right to vote," said Kyle, a convicted felon.

Representative Jesse Crenshaw, from Lexington, agrees.  He says giving convicted felons their rights back is simply the right thing to do.

"I'm a federal, a former federal prosecutor.  No, I'm not soft on crime.  It's not an issue of soft on crime versus not being soft on crime.  It's an issue of just humaneness," said Rep. Crenshaw.

He wants the Senate to vote on the bill, and then ultimately all of Kentucky's voters. 

"Once you've paid your debt, you've paid your debt," said Crenshaw.

The bill does include exemptions for felons who committed some crimes like first degree manslaughter. 
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RogerClegg - 2/28/2013 8:27 PM
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If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison. After all, the unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in. Read more about this issue on our website here [ ] and our congressional testimony here: [ ].
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