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U.S. Attorney General: Time To Restore Voting Rights Of Every Person Who Has Completed Their Criminal Sentence

In the United States, some 5.8 million Americans can’t vote because they have a current or previous felony conviction — more than the individual populations of 31 U.S. states. That figure includes one in 13 African American adults. In Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, one in five African Americans are barred by these felon disenfranchisement policies, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.

Citing these figures and many others, Holder called out state laws that block ex-felons from voting as a vestige of Reconstruction-era voter suppression, and called for for states to repeal every law that prohibits those who have completed their sentence from voting. Holder’s address Tuesday morning at a criminal justice reform symposium is the latest in his “Smart on Crime” initiative that has included scaled back prosecution of crimes with mandatory minimum sentences, less targeting of those complying with state marijuana laws, diversion out of prison and improvement of offender re-entry, and a move to cut short the sentences of some drug offenders.

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