NAACP leader supports voting rights for felons in Delaware
By Amy Cherry

Updated Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 4:38pm

Video player now loading; please wait...
NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous explains why he feels felons should have their voting rights restored. Rep. Helene Keeley also talks about her efforts to pass this measure.

The President and CEO of the NAACP comes to Delaware to throw his support behind a constitutional amendment that must pass this year with a two-thirds majority in order to restore voting rights to convicted felons.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

Click here to listen



Convicted felons would no longer have to wait five years after their sentence is served to head to the polls.

"We're a country that believes in second chances, and quite frankly, when somebody comes out of prison, and they're thinking about voting, that's exactly the type of behavior that we all have an interest in encouraging," says Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.

Click here to listen



Instead, they would just have to finish out their probation and pay restitution, then be permitted to vote.

"A mandatory waiting period here does not serve the interests of our society, does not serve the interests of our democracy, and it is exactly the type of thing that we need to get rid of especially for non-violent offenders because we need to encourage people to do the right thing," says Jealous.

Click here to listen



The proposed constitutional amendment, also known as the Hazel Plant Voter Restoration Act, would bar Delaware's most violent criminals from ever voting again.

Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) is its prime sponsor.

"If you've killed someone, if you've raped someone, if you were a pedophile, you're not getting your voting rights given back, but if you wrote a bad check when you were 18-years-old, then yes, we're going to give you your voting rights back," says Keeley.

Click here to listen



Jealous says restoring voting rights for the most violent offenders isn't the focus of this national push, though he points to two states, Maine and Vermont, that actually allow inmates to vote.

"They have a very infinitesimal black populations, and it really shows, unfortunately, the sad linkage of Jim Crow and the origins of these laws in the very first place," says Jealous.

Click here to listen





Copyright © Sep 30, 2014, WDEL/Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




WDEL News Tools:
Printer friendly version
Back to homepage



 Latest News

 Follow Us

Facebook Twitter
RSS Mobile
Email Updates




Copyright © 2014, Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.   Terms of Use.
WDEL Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity and Outreach