NAACP Takes a Stand for Disenfranchised Former Offenders

October 2, the NAACP launched a national felony disenfranchisement campaign to advocate for the restoration of voting rights for millions of citizens formerly convicted of felonies.

The campaign features billboards of formerly incarcerated citizens like Kemba Smith Pradia, Desmonde Meade, and Jessica Chiaponne. Celebrity activists Judge Greg Mathis and Charles S. Dutton are also featured.

Currently, nearly six million citizens around the country are disenfranchised due to felony disenfranchisement laws and more than 4.4 million of those citizens are no longer incarcerated.  

Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently reinstated felony disenfranchisement restrictions after two of his Republican predecessors worked to remove them.

“Voting is a right,” said President Jealous. “In this state, the governor has decided to turn back the clock.”

Florida, Virginia, Iowa, and Kentucky are the only states that continue to disenfranchise persons convicted of felonies even after they have completed all of the terms of their sentence. There are 1.5 million disenfranchised citizens in Florida alone.

President Jealous’ aim for the campaign is to bring to the forefront the plights of these targeted individuals. “It’s easy to do dirt in the dark,” he said. “It’s harder to do dirt in the light.”

Today’s launch comes on the heels of a NAACP-led visit to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.  As part of the visit, the delegation held a panel discussion on felony disenfranchisement and the attack on voting rights in states across the nation.

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