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GOVERNOR MCAULIFFE GRANTS RIGHTS OF 206,000 FELONS

Source: CLOVIA LAWRENCE / CLOVIA LAWRENCE

If you have paid your debt to society for a crime committed should not you be fully restored as a citizen?

The Virginia GOP has hired an attorney and may challenge Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order that has restored the rights of over 200-thousand individuals with felony offenses in court.

“Governor McAuliffe adopted an unprecedented view of executive authority and exceeded the powers granted to him by the Constitution of Virginia when he issued the order restoring the rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons,” state House Speaker William Howell said in a statement. “It is the obligation of the legislative and judicial branches to serve as a check on overreaches of executive power. To that end, we are prepared to uphold the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law by challenging Governor McAuliffe’s order in court.”

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has restored the rights of an additional 206,000 individuals with felony offenses. On April 22, 2016, Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order that will grant the rights of persons with felony offenses that have completed incarceration, released from supervised probation and parole. Individuals that have met the requirements their rights have been granted to vote, run for public office, serve on a jury, and become a notary.

“Throughout my administration my team and I have operated on a simple principle: Virginians who have served their time and reentered society should do so as full citizens of our Commonwealth and country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Too often in both our distant and recent history, politicians have used their authority to restrict peoples’ ability to participate in our democracy. Today we are reversing that disturbing trend and restoring the rights of more than 200,000 of our fellow Virginians who work, raise families and pay taxes in every corner of our Commonwealth.”
View the full text of the Governor McAuliffe’s executive order on restoration of rights below:

Order for the Restoration of Rights

TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME – GREETINGS:

WHEREAS, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia requires that all those convicted of a felony be deprived of their civil right to vote unless they have their civil rights restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority; and

WHEREAS, it is estimated that approximately 206,000 Virginians are permanently disenfranchised from participating in political life due to prior felony convictions even after completing their court-ordered sentences; and

WHEREAS, such disenfranchisement disproportionately affects racial minorities and economically disadvantaged Virginians; and

WHEREAS, Virginians have increasingly advanced the ideals of equality of all races and peoples, while rejecting the indefinite and unforgiving stigmatization of persons who have committed past criminal acts; and

WHEREAS, the Governor is empowered by Article V, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia “to remove political disabilities consequent upon conviction,” thus to restore the political rights of any persons disqualified by Article II, Section 1; and

WHEREAS, the power granted to the Governor under Article V, Section 12 to remove political disabilities is absolute and without any limitation not expressly stated within the Constitution of Virginia; and

WHEREAS, all individuals who have served the terms of their incarceration and any periods of supervised release deserve to re-enter society on fair and just terms, including to participate in the political and economic advancement of Virginia; and

WHEREAS, the restoration of civil rights has been noted to achieve substantial benefits for those individuals who have felt long-exiled from mainstream life; and

WHEREAS, democracy is strengthened by having more citizens involved in the political process;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, by and through the authority vested in me under Article V, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia, do hereby order the removal of the political disabilities consequent upon conviction of a felony imposed by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia from all those individuals who have, as of this 22nd day of April 2016, (1) completed their sentences of incarceration for any and all felony convictions; and (2) completed their sentences of supervised release, including probation and parole, for any and all felony convictions. The civil rights restored by this Order are: (1) the right to vote; (2) the right to hold public office; (3) the right to serve on a jury; and (4) the right to act as a notary public. Nothing in this Order restores the right to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms.

Given under my hand and under the Lesser Seal of the Commonwealth at Richmond, on April 22, 2016 in the 240th year of the Commonwealth.

 

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