We are pleased to bring you the good news that both the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and the National Latino Congreso (NLC) have recently passed resolutions supporting post-incarceration restoration of voting rights for people with felony convictions.
These endorsements will be useful to you whether you are working toward post-release, parole, probation or post-sentence eligibility reform, administrative reform, or seeking to heighten awareness of the issue. The support of the law enforcement community has proved to be key to successful felon enfranchisement reform, so the APPA endorsement is a vital one. The Latino community is now the largest minority community, and one also disproportionately affected by disfranchisement policies, making the Congreso’s endorsement a significant one. While the Congreso may include some groups and officials you already work with, it is vast and likely to include some with whom you are not yet familiar. Thus, this endorsement from a large umbrella group of Latino organizations should help you garner wider Latino community support for felon enfranchisement.
We strongly urge you to use these endorsements as a part of your felon enfranchisement work. Reach out to APPA and NLC’s local affiliates and organizations and have them act on these resolutions -- invite them to join your state-based coalition, ask them to support legislative reform, request their assistance in helping you forge a relationship with your state Department of Corrections, have them sign their name to strategic opinion editorials, etc.
The text of the resolutions, as well as information about the organizations, follows.
1. American Probation and Parole Association
The American Probation and Parole Association is an international association composed of members from the United States , Canada and other countries actively involved with probation, parole and community-based corrections, in both adult and juvenile sectors. The APPA is a membership-driven organization consisting of practicing, or retired, probation, parole, and community corrections professionals; as well as academics, researchers, members of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, community volunteers, and corporations with an interest in criminal justice and community-based corrections. All levels of government including local, state/provincial, legislative, executive, judicial, and federal agencies are counted among its constituents. The association represents a strong, unified voice for the field of community corrections.
The APPA headquarters is located in Lexington , Kentucky . APPA is an affiliate of and receives its secretariat services from the Council of State Governments. The APPA is a membership organization and has affiliates in several states, many of which are states that are campaigning to reform their felony disfranchisement laws and have public education campaigns on this issue. Contact the APPA affiliates in your state to see if they are interested in working to advance enfranchisement reform in your state. A list of affiliates can be found at http://www.appa-net.org/structure/docs/affiliate_reps.pdf
The APPA is also divided by regions. If there are no affiliates in your state, contact the APPA regional representative who may have suggestions as to whom to work with. A list of regional representatives can be found at http://www.appa-net.org/structure/docs/regional_reps.pdf
APPA Resolution Supporting Restoration of Voting Rights
WHEREAS, many citizens who have been convicted of felonies and have completed their sentences, including community supervision, don not have the right to vote; and
WHEREAS, many states have some restrictions on voting privileges for felons; and
WHEREAS, the loss of the right to vote is not based on a need to protect the integrity of the electoral process and the justice system; and
WHEREAS, disenfranchisement of felons is disproportionately affecting an increasingly large segment of the population and their families; and
WHEREAS, disenfranchisement laws work against the successful reentry of offenders;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Probation and Parole Association advocates the restoration of voting rights upon completion of an offender’s prison sentence and advocates no loss of voting rights while on community supervision.
Accessible online at http://www.appa-net.org/newsreleases/2007/APPA_Voting_Rights_Release.pdf
2. National Latino Congreso
The National Latino Congreso is an annual gathering of the U.S. Latino community. The NLC’s primary purpose is to create a national Latino community policy agenda by bringing together as many people as possible as voting delegates to vote on policy resolutions. The goal of NLC is to more effectively use Latino electoral influence and governance/policy assets to better achieve greater change and justice for the Latino community.
The national conveners of the NLC are Hispanic Federation, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, League of United Latin American Citizens, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Hispanic Environmental Council, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, William C. Velasquez Institute and Earth Day Network.
In addition to the organizations listed above, an additional 228 organizations and 55 elected officials endorsed the 2007 NLC. The resolution passed unanimously, so examine the list of endorsers to see who is located in your state and would be an effective ally on this issue. A list of endorsers can be found at http://www.latinocongreso.org/endorsers
Resolution 5.06 - Restoration of Voting Rights
1. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the organizations represented by delegates of the 2007 National Latino Congreso endorse the automatic restoration of voting rights to individuals with felony convictions upon their release from prison; and
2. FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the organizations represented by delegates of the 2007 National Latino Congreso call on the legislators from those thirty-five states that continue to disenfranchise individuals who are living and working in the community to enact legislation that will automatically restore voting rights upon release from prison; and
3. FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the organizations represented by delegates of the 2007 National Latino Congreso pledge to support federal legislation that will automatically restore voting rights after release from prison on a national level.
Accessible online at http://www.latinocongreso.org/resolutions07approved.php?id=79