Once you've done your time, you should be able to vote


It makes no sense to continue to punish people who have turned their life around. In fact, it is counterproductive because they get discouraged when they are treated as second-class citizens.

Fortunately, Louisiana is on the precipice of changing that. The House passed a bipartisan bill last week, and this week House Bill 265 has already passed out of a Senate committee. The full Senate will have the chance to restore voting rights to deserving people this week -- the last week of the 2018 legislative session.

This is not a partisan issue. I am a conservative, and I believe there should be consequences for crime. But at some point, after dealing with those consequences, people should be allowed to move on with their lives. George W. Bush, when he was governor of Texas, signed a law restoring voting rights for felons. Republican Secretary of State John Merill in Alabama recently led that charge in his Deep Red state. We are joined by other conservatives like the Koch brothers who strongly support restoration of voting rights.

This is not merely a political issue either. I am a Christian, and as Christians we are "called to a ministry of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 5:18). The message from the Bible is that Jesus came to give us all a second chance.

That's exactly what the Louisiana Senate should do this week.

 

 

Pat Nolan

Director

Center for Criminal Justice Reform at The American Conservative Union Foundation

Alexandria, Va.