YEO Policy Books 2015 Policy Book - Page 8

Restoration of Voting Rights to Felons Origin: Wyoming State Legislature Bill Name/Number: HB 15 Link: Click here Summary: Passed in the spring of 2015, this law restores voting rights to individuals convicted of a nonviolent felony upon completion of sentence including probation or parole. Talking Points & Important Information: • According to The Sentencing Project, an estimated 5.85 million Americans across the country are denied the right to vote because of criminal convictions. Known as felony disenfranchisement, this loss of access to the ballot box is a major obstacle to societal reintegration as well as democratic participation because it compounds the isolation of formerly incarcerated individuals from their communities. • Felon disenfranchisement disproportionately affects communities of color. In fact, the Brennan Center found that 13 percent of African American men have lost their right to vote – seven times the national average. • Laws preventing former felons from voting make it harder to reintegrate into society and increase chances of recidivism. In one study, among individuals who had been arrested previously, 27 percent of non-voters were rearrested compared with 12 percent of voters. According to the University of South Florida, re-enfranchising former felons reduces the rate of recidivism by at least 10 percent while also curtailing the adverse growth of the private prison industry. • For more resources on voting rights restoration, click here and here. 2015 POLICY BOOK STATE INTRO LEVEL PAGE 8