Holder calls for restoring ex-cons’ voting rights

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Attorney General Eric Holder

WASHINGTON — One of Washington’s oddities of late is Attorney General Eric Holder’s liberal social justice goals finding unity with the tea party movement’s curb-big-government proposals led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee.

On Tuesday, the alliance is on display as Holder, for the first time as attorney general, calls for states to automatically restore voting rights to prisoners who are disenfranchised upon conviction.

Paul, who supports voter ID laws Holder has sought to block, has pushed to overturn disenfranchisement laws that he says affect too many black men.

Holder, Paul and Lee are pushing to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system, seeking to discard mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes and reduce costly prison spending. The three are appearing Tuesday at a Georgetown Law School forum sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Eleven U.S. states restrict or completely deny voting rights to prisoners even after they’ve completed sentences, probation and parole. Florida, among the most restrictive, bars 10% of its population from voting as a result of such laws. About 5.8 million Americans are prohibited from voting because of current or previous felony convictions, Holder says.

The laws have a major impact on black voters, with nearly one in 13 black adults across the U.S. – it’s one in five in Florida, Virginia and Kentucky – unable to vote, Holder says.

“It is time to fundamentally rethink laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision,” Holder was to say in prepared remarks. “These restrictions are not only unnecessary and unjust, they are also counterproductive. By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes.”

Holder has been busy in the past year working to build his legacy on civil rights issues. Beyond sentencing laws, he has pushed to restore the Justice Department’s voting rights oversight curtailed by the Supreme Court.

He has become a gay rights hero by leading the effort to overturn the government’s stance on same-sex marriage. In recent days he called on memories of the historic black civil rights struggle to explain his moves to expand same-sex marriage benefits in federal legal matters.

After a tumultuous first four years in office, these moves could help boost the assessment of Holder’s tenure, which he has said he expects to last into later this year.

21 comments

  • joe

    The right to vote was taken from these felons because of their poor decision making. Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for wanting their votes.

    • TBP

      The right to vote should be taken away while they are serving their punishment for their crime. However, once they have paid their debt and served their time, there is no logical reason to bar them from being able to integrate back into society, to practice their civic duty, and to attempt to make a positive difference.

    • TBP

      Or maybe its just a common sense move supported on both sides of the aisle with the goal of allowing people who have paid their debt to society to find positive ways to participate in their civic duties once again.

    • Kill The Poor

      Since when have I ever said I was a Democrat? Your McCartyism is showing again Frank. No I hate the two party joke that people in this country (including dumbasses like you) choose to participate in. Constantly “voting” year in and year out, not for the issues facing you community or your country, but to keep the other side out of office. Playing the game while the criminals in Washington FROM BOTH SIDES! get richer by raping what’s left of the middle class. Of course I responded with facts and you come up with that sorry response? Again when you’ve been told what to believe your whole life, critical, objective thinking becomes impossible. Oh and “name calling?. That’s coming from you. You know how evereyone is a “rascist” (your personal favorite), “socialist” “ghetto” “communist” “liberal” “thug” “ghetto” or any other rascist stereotype a hypocrite like you would use to call someon. Just because you don’t agree with them exercising their freedom of speech. I thought Rand Paul (whom I still hate) was your all American Tea Party patriot? Nah now he’s just a traitor because he’s actually showed bi-partisanship with Eric Holder. Yeah, Rush radio didn’t tell you what to do if thst happened did they? I’m sure you’re next response will be filled with your typical hate filled, white trash rhetoric. You know, that rhetoric all good Christians would frown upon?

  • 1SHOT1KILL

    There goes the Obama Administration once again, pandering to the lowest common denomination of our society, the crminal elements. Holder should be in prison right along with them, for the murders of Kenneth Trentadue and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

    • TBP

      And the Tea Party is agreeing with this and supporting it? Oh man, it MUST be a LIBERAL CONSPIRACY if the TEA PARTY is in on it…

      Get over your rhetoric. This is clearly a common sense move that BOTH sides agree is FAIR and RIGHT for this country.

      • Stephen

        Common sense huh? Is that what you call it? I’ll bet you also believe in unicorns. There is nothing sensible about letting criminals vote. They gave up that right when they committed the crime. People like you, are the problem!

      • TBP

        So you think that even after someone has legally fulfilled their debt to society and served their punishment that they should be outcasted? Why do we even let people out of jail then?

        I mean, have you ever gone above the speed limit in your car? If so, then you have broken the law, and you are a criminal, and by your own logic you shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

        If your goal is to keep a man down after he has served his punishment to the satisfaction of the law and is attempting to rebuild his life, then YOU and YOUR MINDSET is a major problem not just for our country but for humanity as a whole.

  • Walter

    So instead of addressing the social epidemic you throw a band aid on it? How about making it mandatory to get a GED and skill training while spending time on our dime?

  • Stephen

    As a public representative, you are obligated to be proponents for ALL citizens, not just for a particular race. This racial bigot’s only efforts are 100% for black americans. He is a racist(anti-white) pig. That is all there is to it.

  • PsycoBabbl

    The sooner these idiots are out of office the better the country will be.They think that they can change everything to suit their political agenda and disregard the fact that these laws were put in place for the right reasons and have been working.Screw politics right is right and wrong is wrong.

    • TBP

      How can you argue that a law has been working when it is only in place in 11 states, and in 1 of those 11 states it keeps 10% of eligible voters from voting?

      You’re correct that right is right and wrong is wrong. And it is wrong to continue punishing an individual after said individual has already served his punishment.

      As a matter of fact, I don’t understand why ex-con voter disenfranchisement laws haven’t been struck down as unconstitutional. It seems like a direct violation of the 8th Amendment in regards to excessive punishment.

  • Michelle

    What’s wrong with being equal….You see a lot of racist remarks about the democratic party smh…i bet no one was mad at Bush or Reagan or Clinton. There are a lot racist in the triad and they claim their not lol lies.

  • JT

    Careful, TBP and Kill the Poor–you’re using logic here. Don’t you know that’s frowned upon here? On this site, we go with one of the two emotions we can understand: Anger (or, as a subset, righteous indignation) and fear.

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