Today Ban the Box, tomorrow Voting Rights. The Louisiana House of Representatives has heard about prisons and prisoners quite a bit in recent years, and now they are also getting an earful about rehabilitation, reentry, recidivism, probation and parole; about people living in the community and facing the policies of exclusion.
Today, the House passed a bill to Ban the Box on state job applications, 53-39, setting an example for the Senate, the Governor, and employers across the state that we need to be more encouraging for people looking for work, especially when work can be hard to find.
Tomorrow, this same chamber will vote on allowing voting rights to our community members trying to assimilate and exercise our most fundamental mark of citizenship: voting. The bill, HB 598, passed out of committee without opposition. VOTE and other advocates made the calls, provided the testimonies, and provided ample reasons for legislators to support the integration of people following convictions, an issue Governor Jon Bel Edwards has agreed is of critical importance.
We need your full support, now, at this critical time we are reducing open discrimination on employment and housing. We need you to make the following calls and emails:
Speaker of the House Taylor Barras
Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger, III (D-91New Orleans)
Governor John Bel Edwards
(225)342-0991 or (844)860-1413
Let these key people and your own representative know that you support voting rights for people living in our community on probation parole, to please use their positions of power to guide the House members to pass HB 598, and send a message every individual in Louisiana is still a member of our families, our communities, and our state. We need to encourage positive behavior, such as voting, and not deny the efforts of people who want to do positive things.
When anyone calls us “Returning Citizens,” correct them. They mean well, but the response is “not yet.” Not until the 70,000 people on Louisiana, some who “returned” from prison while most were processed through the jail, are restored with the most fundamental and basic right of citizenship: voting.