Friday, January 23, 2015

California's Former Prisoners Often Don't Know They Can Vote, Study Finds

With severe overcrowding, abuse allegations and controversial sentencing laws, California’s prison system is a knotty political topic that often appears on the ballot. But according to a new study, many former inmates don't know they can vote in elections.

A report released Thursday by the Greenlining Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for racial and economic equality, found that formerly incarcerated Californians often are unaware of their voting eligibility and wrongly believe they have to go through a special process to get back their voting rights. Current policy intended to inform former inmates of their rights may not be effective, according to the report.

Of the 21 former inmates interviewed for the report, 60 percent “have been confused at some point about their eligibility to vote due to a criminal conviction,” the study said. Co-author Zainab Badi acknowledged the small sample size. "But we were in two different counties and had a diverse pool of people, so we think this is indicative of a larger trend,” she said.


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