Restoration of Rights (for Ex-Offenders)

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Restoration of Rights (for Ex-Offenders)

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Restoration of Rights for Ex-Offenders:

Restoration of Rights for Ex-Offenders The Advocacy Foundation, Inc. 1735 Market Street, Suite 3750 100 Edgewood Avenue, Suite 1690 Philadelphia, PA 19102 Atlanta, GA 30303 (878) 222-0100 Voice | Data | SMS www.TheAdvocacyFoundation.org © The Advocacy Foundation, Inc. 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Biblical Authority:

Biblical Authority Jeremiah 33 Joel 2:25-26 1 Peter 5:10 Deuteronomy 30:1-10 2

Introduction:

3 Introduction The loss of rights due to felony conviction takes many forms. In the United States this includes disenfranchisement, exclusion from Jury duty, and loss of the right to possess firearms. In the USA, every state with the exception of Maine and Vermont prohibits felons from voting while in prison. Nine other states disenfranchise felons for various lengths of time following the completion of their probation or parole.

Introduction:

4 Introduction Three states, Kentucky, Virginia, and Florida (Gov. Rick Scott reverted to the old policy in 2010 that had been changed by Gov. Charlie Crist ), continue to impose a lifelong denial of the right to vote to all citizens with a felony record, in the absence of a restoration of civil rights by the Governor or, where allowed, state legislature. Florida law is somewhat unique, in that the individual must be pardoned by the Governor and a majority of the publicly elected State Cabinet.

Introduction:

5 Introduction The United States Supreme Court does not recognize the right to sit on a jury as fundamental. The lifetime exclusion of felons from jury service is the majority rule in the U.S., used in thirty one states and in federal courts. The result is that over 6% of the adult population is excluded, including about 30% of black men. Many of the states subscribing to this practice allow felons to practice law.

Felony Disenfranchisement:

6 Felony Disenfranchisement Jurisdictions vary in whether they make such disfranchisement permanent, or restore suffrage after a person has served a sentence, or completed parole or probation. Affected individuals suffer "collateral consequences" including loss of access to jobs, housing, and other facilities.

Felony Disenfranchisement:

7 Jurisdictions vary in whether they make such disfranchisement permanent, or restore suffrage after a person has served a sentence, or completed parole or probation. Affected individuals suffer "collateral consequences" including loss of access to jobs, housing, and other facilities. Felony Disenfranchisement

Felony Disenfranchisement:

8 Research has shown that as much as 10 percent of the population in some minority communities in the USA is unable to vote, as a result of felon disenfranchisement. As of 2008 over 5.3 million people in the United States were denied the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement. Approximately thirteen percent of the United States' population is African American, yet African Americans make up thirty-eight percent of the American prison population. Slightly more than fifteen percent of the United States population is Hispanic, while twenty percent of the prison population is Hispanic. People who are felons are disproportionately people of color. Felony Disenfranchisement

Voting Rights:

9 Voting Rights In the United States, the voting rights of people convicted of a felony vary from state to state. In most states, the right to vote is automatically or eventually restored upon the completion of one’s sentence. In three states – Florida, Kentucky and Iowa – all individuals convicted of felonies lose their voting rights permanently, and they must directly petition the government to get them back.

Voting Rights:

10 Voting Rights Several groups in the U.S. are active in the movement to restore voting rights to people with prior felony convictions, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Voting and Democracy, Prison Policy Initiative, Advancement Project, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, and the Sentencing Project. Among these groups and others, core reasons for ending felony disenfranchisement and restoring voting rights to people with prior felony convictions include: Felony Disenfranchisement is Used to Suppress The African-American Vote

Richardson v. Ramirez 418 U.S. 24 (1974):

11 Richardson v. Ramirez 418 U.S. 24 (1974) Richardson v. Ramirez , 418 U.S. 24 (1974), held that convicted felons could be barred from voting without violating the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs, who had been convicted of felonies and had completed their sentences, brought a class action against California’s Secretary of State and election officials, challenging a state constitutional provision and statutes that permanently disenfranchised anyone convicted of an “infamous crime,” unless the right to vote was restored by court order or executive pardon.

Richardson v. Ramirez 418 U.S. 24 (1974):

12 Typically in voting rights cases, states must show that the voting restriction is necessary to a “compelling state interest,” and is the least restrictive means of achieving the state’s objective. In this case, the plaintiffs argued that the state had no compelling interest to justify denying them the right to vote. The California Supreme Court agreed that the law was unconstitutional. On appeal, however, the U.S. Supreme Court said that a state does not have to prove that its felony disenfranchisement laws serve a compelling state interest. Richardson v. Ramirez 418 U.S. 24 (1974)

Richardson v. Ramirez 418 U.S. 24 (1974):

13 The Court pointed to Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which exempted felony disenfranchisement laws from the heightened scrutiny given to other restrictions on the right to vote. The Court said that Section 2, which reduces a state’s representation in Congress if the state has denied the right to vote for any reason “except for participation in rebellion, or other crime,” distinguishes felony disenfranchisement from other forms of voting restrictions, which must be narrowly tailored to serve compelling state interests in order to be constitutional. Richardson v. Ramirez 418 U.S. 24 (1974)

Ownership of Firearms:

14 Ownership of Firearms In accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20), a conviction does not disqualify an individual from possessing firearms if the person convicted "has had civil rights restored." In § 922(g)(1) cases based upon a State felony conviction, courts have uniformly looked to the law of the State where the conviction was obtained to determine whether the defendant's civil rights have been restored and whether such action has nullified the conviction's incidental prohibition on firearms possession.

Ownership of Firearms:

15 Ownership of Firearms With respect to Federal felony convictions, the Supreme Court declared in Beecham v. United States , 511 U.S. 368 (1994), that only Federal law can nullify the effect of the conviction through expungement, pardon, or restoration of civil rights. - This is so, the Court ruled, even though there is no Federal procedure for restoring the civil rights of Federal felons.

Logan v. United States 453 F.3d 804 (2007) :

16 Logan v. United States 453 F.3d 804 (2007) Defendant pleaded that his sentence (for being a felon in possession of a firearm) was improperly enhanced under the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C.S. § 921(a)(20), because it was based on prior convictions which did not result in the loss of civil rights. The Court unanimously held that the "civil rights restored" exemption of convictions for sentence-enhancement purposes did not extend to a defendant who retained his civil rights at all times, and whose post-conviction legal status remained in all respects unaltered by any state dispensation. Further, the other statutory basis for disregarding convictions involved convictions which were expunged or set aside, or for which the offender was pardoned, all of which were post-conviction events which relieved consequences of the convictions

Public Office and Employment:

17 Public Office and Employment States have more leeway when it comes to setting rules for who may hold state level office, but they have none at the federal level. The Constitution lists three conditions one must meet to be a candidate for the House of Representatives -- you must be at least 25 years old, have been a citizen for at least seven years and live in the state you hope to represent. - These are all that are required, and states may not add to them, for example, by prohibiting a felon from running for office.

Public Office and Employment:

18 Public Office and Employment The Constitution might affirm one’s right to run for office, but it grants states broad authority over deciding who may vote. This leads to the potentially paradoxical situation that should s/he get on the ballot, s/he wouldn’t be able to vote for her/himself.

Parker v. Lyons No. 13-3660 (7th Cir. 2014) :

19 Parker v. Lyons No. 13-3660 (7 th Cir. 2014) General Parker filed nominating petitions to run for office on the local school board. The county states attorney filed a quo warranto proceeding to block his candidacy based on his previous conviction of felony theft.  Illinois statute prohibits a "person convicted of an infamous crime...from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit unless such person is again restored to such rights by the terms of a pardon for the offense or otherwise according to law."  10 ILCS 5/29-15. Parker argued that the statute barring those convicted of infamous crimes from holding office does not apply to school board members, that the states attorney was selectively enforcing the statute, and that the hearings were unjust.

Parker v. Lyons No. 13-3660 (7th Cir. 2014) :

20 On appeal, the Seventh Circuit found the Illinois statute to be constitutional.   First, the right to run for or hold public office is not a fundamental right, and felons are not a suspect class.   Consequently, a ban on felons running for elective office is valid if it is rationally related to a legitimate state interest.   The state's interest in barring felons from elective office is to ensure "public confidence in the honesty and integrity of those serving in state and local offices." Parker v. Lyons No. 13-3660 (7 th Cir. 2014)

Parker v. Lyons No. 13-3660 (7th Cir. 2014) :

21 The U.S. Supreme Court has previously held that states can deprive convicted felons of the right to vote, a right that is fundamental.   The right to run for office is not a fundamental right, so a similar bar would likely pass constitutional muster.   Parker v. Lyons No. 13-3660 (7 th Cir. 2014)

Questions & Answers:

22 Questions & Answers

Thank You!:

Thank You! The Advocacy Foundation, Inc. 1735 Market Street, Suite 3750 100 Edgewood Avenue, Suite 1690 Philadelphia, PA 19102 Atlanta, GA 30303 (878) 222-0100 Voice | Data | SMS www.TheAdvocacyFoundation.org © The Advocacy Foundation, Inc. 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

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