More States Are Restoring Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated People, and That’s a Very Good Thing

More States Are Restoring Voting Rights For Formerly Incarcerated People And That’S A Very Good Thing Full
Those who have paid their debt to society deserve the opportunity to reintegrate as full participants in civic life.

Not only is the restoration of voting rights a benefit to our democracy, it's also a benefit to those who are personally impacted. While community support is essential to a person's successful reentry after incarceration, this support is—in large part—dependent on a person's ability to engage in their community in the first place. One of the most essential ways this can happen is through the ballot box, giving a voice and agency to the person casting a vote. Voting also has the power to bind community members together as a shared civic experience. 

Formerly incarcerated people already face significant hurdles to reentry, including difficulty finding employment, maintaining stable housing, and reestablishing connections with their families and communities. These barriers can exacerbate feelings of isolation, shame, and frustration—which in turn can lead to increased criminal activity. 

Rather than compounding barriers to reentry, we must give formerly incarcerated people every opportunity to regain the community and family support necessary to succeed after their release. This is in everyone's interest, given that 95 percent of incarcerated people will eventually return home. 

The right to vote is a fundamental tenet of democracy. Those who have paid their debt to society deserve the opportunity for a second chance and a chance to reintegrate as full participants in civic life.