Attorney General Encourages States to Repeal Convicted Felon Voting Restrictions

Earlier this week – on Tuesday February 11 – Attorney General Eric H. Holder issued a statement that called on states to give convicted felons back their voting rights. Holder's speech, delivered at Georgetown University Law Center, encouraged states to reconsider strict laws that prohibit felons from voting after their release from incarceration. He stated that these voting restrictions "permanently disenfranchise" Americans who are no longer under state or federal supervision. Such a sweeping change to the nation's voting laws could allow millions of people throughout the nation to vote.

Holder further commented that the unjust and unnecessary felon-voter restrictions are counterproductive to the goal of rehabilitating offenders and reintegrating them into society. In support of his argument, he called on Florida's recent move to give felons the right to vote. Studies have shown that felons who were granted voting rights had lower recidivism rates – meaning that they were less likely to return to prison.

Holder's appeal to the states is a not a mandate, but rather part of the administration's efforts to reevaluate and change the nation's criminal justice system. Part of these sweeping changes has included a federal hands-off policy in states that permit recreational or medical marijuana, and a shift away from incarcerating low-level drug offenders. Other changes to the criminal justice system are intended to address the treatment of minorities. Currently, nearly 6 million Americans are prohibited from voting due to felony convictions. Close to 38% of those Americans are black.

Convicted Felon Voting Laws in Missouri

In the state of Missouri, individuals convicted of a felony are ineligible to vote while incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. Voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of all supervised release requirements. Ex-offenders must also re-register to vote. Today, only four states automatically restore voting rights to felons when they are released from prison.

According to The Hammer Law Firm's very own Attorney Nicole Chiravollatti, being prohibited from voting is just one of the many rights one gives up when faced with a felony conviction. To protect these and other rights, it is crucially important to choose an experienced, skilled attorney who can protect you from a felony conviction. The decision you make now regarding representation of your criminal matter could have lifelong repercussions. At The Hammer Law Firm, our St. Louis criminal defense lawyers work tirelessly to preserve our clients' rights and futures.

If you are currently facing misdemeanor or felony allegations in St. Louis or anywhere in Missouri, contact us for a FREE consultation.

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