Letter to the Editor | Nonviolent former criminals, and voting

Published 11:14 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dear Editor,

The right to vote is perhaps the most American, and most basic right we have. And yet almost 250,000 Kentuckians will be denied this basic right to be heard this November. Why? A nasty game of politics by Governor Matt Bevin. It almost feels like Governor Bevin has a mission to remove everything good that Governor Beshear put forward. Medicaid expansion, Kynect, and the voting rights act.

Sure, these folks made some bad decisions, they broke the law and were charged with a crime. But that’s the past. The present reality is that these people–friends, neighbors, family members and our fellow Kentuckians–are nonviolent former criminals who served their sentence. Why shouldn’t they have a shot at making a better future? And why shouldn’t they have their right to vote, to be heard, to be a full part of society again?

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Don’t ask governor Bevin these questions, all you’ll get is some more extremely partisan regurgitation. Almost right out of the gate, after being elected, he repealed the act that would allow people who have paid for their crimes to have their voting rights restored. So much for being a governor of the people, so much for compassion, and so much for basic dignity, decency or respect.

We’re better than this in Kentucky, and we know it. The same opportunities don’t exist for those facing what amounts to a life sentence after having committed a nonviolent crime in their past, only to return to society without the full range of opportunities, rights and freedoms guaranteed to the rest of us. And that’s exactly what this is; a denial of a person’s full freedom.

Consider also, the approaching removal of health insurance for thousands of Kentuckians, as well as the governor’s bad moves toward unions and the jobs these unions protect. It isn’t too hard to see that Governor Bevin either doesn’t understand, or simply doesn’t respect freedom and creating good opportunities for our Commonwealth.

Gregory D. Welch

Vice Chair

Jessamine County Democrats 

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