Letter: Restore the vote for felons after prison
No matter what we look like or where we come from, we all want to have our voices heard and valued in our democracy. But as of today, 60,000 Minnesotans of voting age living in our communities can't vote because they have committed a felony.
About 5,000 of these people are veterans. These people have served their time and been released from prison. They can't vote because they are on probation. In Minnesota, probation for released prisoners can last for many years, if not decades.
The lives of released prisoners are affected by the laws of our state, just like the rest of us, but since they can't vote, they have no say in these laws.
As a veteran, I have have been involved as an organizer and mentor with “Veterans Treatment Courts” here in Minnesota. These courts provide treatment alternatives for veterans rather than jail time. Keeping these veterans actively involved in their communities is an important part of their rehabilitation. Being able to vote is a key element of community engagement. It has been shown that released prisoners who vote are significantly less likely to recommit crimes.
Democracy thrives when people vote. Let's restore the vote for felons who have been released from prison. This will help them and it will be good for our communities. Please contact your elected representatives and ask them to “restore the vote” for these neighbors reentering our communities. There are currently two bills moving through our Legislature that will accomplish this.
Fletcher Hinds, Rochester