In Joint Effort, ACLU and Community Groups Help Ex-Offenders Restore Their Voting Rights

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
January 24, 2001 12:00 am

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ACLU of Florida
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MIAMI, FL– In an effort to help ex-offenders navigate through the lengthy and complicated application process of restoring their voting rights, a coalition of community groups is sponsoring a town hall meeting here this Saturday to educate former offenders on how to regain their right to vote.

Florida is one of only 14 states that fail to restore those rights upon release from custody or supervision, and nearly 32 percent of the state’s total number of disenfranchised felons are black, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, a participant in the event.

The end result is the mass disenfranchisement of more than 600,000 people, many of whom are voting-age black males, according to John de Leon, President of the Greater Miami Chapter of the Florida ACLU.

The town hall meeting is sponsored by Brothers of the Same Mind, Inner City Grass Roots Civic Coalition and A New Start — three Liberty-City-based grassroots organizations that work to help former inmates reintegrate into society. Other invited participants include Florida Senators Kendrick Meek, Darryl Jones and State Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, along with Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler.

In order for ex-offenders to legally vote, they must go through a lengthy application process with the Governor’s Office of Executive Clemency and ultimately the Clemency Board, made up of the Governor and his cabinet members. The Department of Corrections is legally required to ensure that all materials are forwarded to the Governor’s office prior to inmates’ release dates, yet many ex-offenders claim the prison system isn’t fulfilling its obligations in a timely manner, the ACLU said.

Last week, the ACLU of Florida announced plans to file a class-action lawsuit to remove government barriers that make it nearly impossible for individuals with past felony convictions to restore their voting rights. For more information on this lawsuit, visit the ACLU of Florida website at www.aclufl.org.

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