Restorative Justice a Possibility

Last week, a group of protesters, some with handkerchiefs covering their mouths marched up to the House Chamber chanting, “Restore the Vote.” Some sported T-Shirts for MADDADS a group formed against gang violence.  They were supported in their cause by TakeAction Minnesota.

Afterword once the House session had let out we were present when two Republican members discussed the issue, one being Rep. Tony Cornish (R-23B, Vernon Center) Chair, Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance. His colleague asked Cornish, his position on Restorative Justice and he said, “I support it and have a bill for it, but it never had a hearing.” Cornish said, “But that doesn’t mean much at the end of the session.” This may mean the issue could be part of an overall negotiation or could gain strength on its own and be an amendment to other legislation.

It seems like a good idea to keep the pressure on and give people who have paid their debt to society their rights, which should never have been poached in the first place.

Historical fact, the loss of voting rights was a tactic first deployed in the Jim Crow South to disenfranchise newly minted African-American voters. In addition to creating false criminal charges the Southern judicial system invoked an additional penalty which is the removal of voting rights.

There is no reason to remove the voting rights of any offender no matter what the offense the two issues now connected do not belong together. In fact if institutions like prisons had to proctor an election it might make a big difference in certain communities. Those places have the imprisoned populations counted as residents during the US Census.

Interesting development, during yesterday’s Senate debate on the Election Bill Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-62, Minneapolis) had an amendment calling for prisoners to be counted in their home areas rather than in the place of their incarceration. This is an interesting idea, but what about people who are not Minnesota residents and live in other states, but are incarcerated here. In fact, many Federal inmates are from other localities. Should those remain counted here?

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