Amendment 4, which will be on Florida’s ballot in the upcoming November elections, is a voting rights restoration for felons initiative.
A “yes” vote supports this amendment to automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or — you guessed it — a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation.
Due to the exclusion of those with certain prior felony records, the Human Rights Defense Center opposes the amendment. According to ballotpedia.org, “Paul Wright, founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center, a nonprofit based in Lake Worth that advocates for progressive criminal justice reform, wrote the following in the Tallahassee Democrat:
The problem with Amendment 4 is that it perpetuates the discrimination and bigotry of disenfranchisement against a subclass of ex-felons – those convicted of murder or sex crimes. If Amendment 4 passes, it will enshrine into our state constitution discrimination against convicted murderers and sex offenders that will make enfranchising them virtually impossible. While some may point to the serious nature of their offenses, they have nothing to do with voting. The punishment of disenfranchisement does not fit the crime.
I was convicted of murder in Washington State in 1987 for killing a drug dealer during an armed robbery. In 1990, while serving a 25-year sentence, I started a nonprofit magazine from my prison cell which today employs 18 people to advocate for just, humane and fair criminal justice policies. I pay taxes, work to improve my community and am a productive member of society. But the backers of Amendment 4 would deny me the right to vote.”
The organization is available for information and for interviews.
Paul Wright, Human Rights Defense Center Director and Prison Legal News Editor
P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460
Tel: (561) 360-2523; Fax: (866) 735-7136