California election officials are currently reversing one of the policies that prohibit 45,000 felons from casting ballots in elections. This move will place the Golden State at the forefront in a nationwide movement to enhance voting rights for all ex-criminals.
Up until now, California has maintained the state laws that disallow felons from voting, not only when they’re completing their jail term, but also when they are on parole or are under community supervision and similar programs.
Earlier in August, the Secretary of State Alex Padilla stated that the state will now support voting rights for all felons under community supervision, which is generally overlooked by county probation departments.
This move is likely to affect the growing number of felons in California. The state is committed towards reducing the number of prison inmates and jail crowding and to release a vast majority of non-violent felons into community supervision programs, while giving them the right to vote.
Padilla remarks that the decision is driven by a sense of conscience and as an act of good faith. He noted that several inmates are incorrectly represented at all correctional facilities across California and are often denied their basic rights, leading to further disparities and frustrations and more acts of crime and violence.
Restoring a felon’s right to vote is also part of a nationwide attempt to revamp the criminal justice system. Some of the conservatives are also supporting the notion, with Senator Rand Paul taking the lead. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that more than 4 million Americans cannot vote on the basis of their past criminal convictions and charges.
California’s decision to allow felons to vote is also a response to a petition filed by the American civil rights group that terms the current legislation as unfair and discriminatory.
The verdict received widespread applause from all individuals who favor more lenient and relaxed sentencing laws. In 2011, Californian lawmakers had agreed to a resolution that nonviolent and lower-level felons should be placed under community supervisions as a corrective measure, instead of being locked away in jails. This was to prevent jails from overcrowding.
The settlement requires Padilla’s office to issue new voter-education content and materials to all county probation officers, currently in-charge of overseeing the community supervisions and reporting on felon behavior. Padilla also agreed to back a state payment of $215,000 to the different civil right groups in California that had filed the lawsuit.
Over the past few years, California has vehemently pursued laws that provide certain amenities and relief to lower-level and nonviolent felons. This includes relaxing the “three strikes” laws in the state, reducing certain penalties and allowing citizens to procure certain drugs for recreational purposes, albeit with some conditions and limitations.
Some time ago, Florida had implemented similar laws as well. Up till the 2000 Presidential elections, Floridian felons were not allowed to cast their votes under Governor Jeb Bush. Following his tenure, Governor Charlie Crist restored the voting rights for nonviolent felons. His decision was overruled by the next Floridian Governor. Other states are likely to pursue voting-friendly rights in the future as well.
California’s voting right laws are intended to provide all residents with an opportunity to vote for their favorite leaders in the upcoming elections. To learn more about the laws and whether or not they apply to you, contact Premier Federal Criminal Defenders today!