By Errin Whack, Washington Post
May 29, 2013
Read the full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-politics/mcdonnell-to-expedite-rights-restoration-process-for-non-violent-felons-in-virginia/2013/05/29/ae34cbe0-c873-11e2-8da7-d274bc611a47_story.html?wprss=rss_local
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said Wednesday that he is waiving the waiting period and automatically restoring the voting rights of non-violent felons who have completed their sentences and satisfied certain conditions.
The decision by McDonnell, a former prosecutor who has supported restoring voting rights, underscores a long-held position.
“When someone commits a crime, they must be justly punished,” the governor said during remarks in Richmond. “However, once these individuals have served their time and fully paid for the offenses they committed, they should be afforded a clear and fair opportunity to resume their lives as productive members of our society. America is a land of opportunity and second chances; a land where we cherish and protect our constitutional rights. For those who have fully paid their debt for their crimes, they deserve a second chance to fully rejoin society and exercise their civil and constitutional rights.”
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, who attended McDonnell’s announcement in Richmond, called the governor’s action “a courageous step.”
“When Governor McDonnell and I started this conversation a few years ago, it was clear that this was something that we both agreed on, that the state could and should do more to expand access to voting for people who had been wrongfully kept away from the ballot box,” Jealous said after the announcement.
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the governor’s actions are the most he can do under Virginia law.
Under the changes, which will take effect July 15, a two-year waiting period to apply required for nonviolent offenders has been eliminated. Applicants convicted of a violent offense, a crime against a minor or an election-law offense must still wait five years.
Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly will meet with stakeholder groups over the next 45 days to develop the procedures to transition from the application-based system to a verification system.
[Continued at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-politics/mcdonnell-to-expedite-rights-restoration-process-for-non-violent-felons-in-virginia/2013/05/29/ae34cbe0-c873-11e2-8da7-d274bc611a47_story.html?wprss=rss_local]