Felons who have served their sentences shouldn’t be blocked from voting by state laws that disproportionately affect minorities, Attorney General Eric Holder will say today. “These restrictions are not only unnecessary and unjust, they are also counterproductive,” Holder said in remarks prepared for delivery this morning in Washington. “These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered but repealed.” Holder’s push for restoring voting rights of felons is the latest change he’s seeking in long-standing criminal justice policies that he has said do nothing to make Americans safer and have steep costs.
Last year, he announced that low-level, non-violent drug offenders would no longer be charged with federal crimes that impose strict mandatory minimum sentences. He has also pushed for increased availability of drug treatment programs and changes in how officials handle former inmates to reduce the numbers who return to crime.
… About 5.8 million Americans are blocked from voting because of felony convictions, according to a 2012 study by the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit that researches criminal justice issues. Holder will say that the “impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable.”