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Restore parolees’ voting rights permanently, and do it now

New York Daily News

For the first time in a decade, a clear path exists for New York State lawmakers to end the Jim Crow-era injustice preventing thousands of their fellow citizens from accessing the ballot box. Now is the moment for the state Senate and Assembly to pass S. 1931/A. 4987 to permanently restore voting rights to all formerly incarcerated New Yorkers upon their reentry from prison. I urge legislators to seize the opportunity before them this session to abolish felony disenfranchisement, an anti-democratic practice rooted in white supremacy.

At any given time, nearly 30,000 New Yorkers on parole are ineligible to vote. State law thus imposes on them a grave, collateral consequence of their criminal conviction — one which strips them of core democratic rights, and renders them second-class citizens.

This is not what justice looks like, as 15 other states have now recognized. Justice for reentering New Yorkers means affording them the same opportunities as their peers to share in fundamental aspects of community building and civic engagement, whether it is working, raising a family, or participating in the political process. This is why my office is funding New York’s first statewide college-in-prison program, and social enterprises that hire reentering New Yorkers. It’s why we hire reentering New Yorkers to work at the D.A.’s office, and why we proudly supported the movement to “Ban the Box.”

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