Restoration of felons’ rights is ‘a human rights issue’

8/5/2016, 7 p.m.

Re “Virginia Supreme Court turns back clock on restoration of felons’ rights,” July 28-30 edition:

I have a friend who is a felon and two others who are currently incarcerated but returning to society in five years and 20 years, respectively. I talk politics often with the friend who is back in society. Around election time, he always asks who I am voting for. I tell him, aware of the sad fact that he cannot vote.

I applaud Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempt to change the status quo and restore the voting rights of felons. While it was a unilateral attempt to strengthen our democracy, I believe it failed because it was seen as a left wing tactic to round up votes for Democrats. A case by case restoration of rights should work because it is less threatening to the right wing.

Nevertheless, the need for voting rights for those who have been incarcerated and are now free is imminent. Hopefully, partisan politics can be put aside and it can be seen that this is a human rights issue and something that we all benefit from.

No one, once freed, should have to sit and watch as others participate fully in society and feel left out because of past mistakes. Efforts like the one to repress felons’ voting rights serve only to make recidivists out of otherwise productive citizens and are counterproductive to a functioning society.