Letter to the Editor

Felon voting rights

Sunday, January 13, 2019

At the risk of trying to simplify a complex matter, I'd like to initiate some dialog on the topic of restoration of voting rights for felons. The rights of some 52,000 folks in Iowa are in the balance. Some people think this process should be automatic, says state Rep. Megan Jones. It apparently is that way in the majority of states. However, in Iowa, it is a process that in recent years has become easier and simpler. There is a website to view, if you feel so inclined. It spells out the steps one must take for restoration of citizenship rights.

As I understand the current situation, a felon who has completed serving his/her sentence can apply to the Governor's Office for restoration. That is offensive to some, for they maintain that serving one's prison sentence should be enough of a consequence for committing a felony. But what about unpaid fines, court costs and restitution to the victims of crimes committed by the released individual. Let's say a person served three years of a 10-year sentence. Prior to, or during their confinement, did they pay the aforementioned financial obligations? Were they making an effort? Are they still reporting to an adult probation or parole officer? Is that one of the conditions for actually completing the legal obligation successfully? If so, they really haven't satisfied the provisions of the law.

Go online and see what is expected of a felon released from prison. Does it appear onerous? Is it a matter of demonstrating responsibility and accountability beyond sitting in prison? If it involves proving that one's "debt to society" and those victimized has actually been paid, the governor would likely see no reason to deny restoration of voting rights. I, for one, want the debt satisfied to the extent possible.

Bill Kersting, Spencer