Tomorrow, a bill that would allow people to vote when their period of incarceration ends will be heard in the Maryland legislature's House Ways and Means Committee. Currently, after being released, Marylanders must go through parole, and then probation and then a three year waiting period. At the end of that time, they can apply to have their voting rights restored -- but there is no guarantee that they actually will be. Maryland is also one of the few states in the country that in some cases disenfranchises people for life.
If Maryland passes the bill, it will join other states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, which have enacted similar legislation. Last year, Maryland made news by passing treatment instead of incarceration legislation that will divert thousands of non-violent drug offenders into treatment and save millions of taxpayer dollars.
"Felony disenfranchisement is detrimental to our re-entry goals because it denies ex-offenders the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and participation in community life, which are so necessary for successful reintegration," said Delegate Marriott, who sponsored the bill.
"Felony disenfranchisement has taken away the ability of poor communities and communities of color to defend themselves against the war on drugs," said Michael Blain, Director of Public Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance.
"When you continue to take away the voting power of people who have served their sentences, you don't just disenfranchise them, you disenfranchise entire communities," said Tara Andrews, Director of the Maryland Justice Coalition. What
Press Conference on Historic Voter Rights Restoration Bill Who
Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, Bill Sponsor
Senator Verna Jones, Vice Chair of Maryland Black Caucus
Tara Andrews, Director, Maryland Justice Coalition
Kimberly Haven, Campaign Coordinator for Maryland Justice Coalition, formerly incarcerated and currently disenfranchised
Alfreda Robinson, Maryland Justice Coalition, formerly incarcerated and currently disenfranchised
Michael Blain, Director of Public Policy, Drug Policy Alliance
Representatives from the Maryland Black Caucus
Room 318, Lowe House Office Building, Annapolis, Maryland When
Wednesday, January 26--10:30 A.M.