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HB 1609: Restore voting rights of former non-violent offenders

House Bill 1609, sponsored by Rep. Kabir Karriem, would automatically restore the voting rights of those who have served time for certain non-violent convictions.  

Under the proposal, Mississippi’s long list of disenfranchising crimes would be narrowed and those who have been found guilty of non-violent offenses and completed their sentence will have their voting rights automatically restored after five years. 

The restoration of voting rights is a key element of rehabilitation for ex-offenders, including community reintegration. In interviews with 33 people convicted of a felony, conducted as part of a larger research project, the right to vote was a fundamental component of developing a pro-social identity, whereas being restricted from voting reinforced an outsider status—feeling like a partial citizen. Interviewees also linked civic participation with intentions to remain crime free. The study also stressed how civic reintegration contributes to forming identities as law-abiding citizens which aids in the desistance from crime.  

It’s also a public safety issue. According to one study, individuals who had their voting rights restored post-incarceration were found to have a lower likelihood of re-arrest compared to similarly-situated individuals in states which continued to restrict the right to vote after incarceration. 

Empower Mississippi supports this legislation. 

HB 1609 has passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Constitution and Judiciary B Committees. You can read the bill here. 

Read original article by clicking here.

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