|Posted on September 1, 2015 at 10:20 PM|
Convicted felon and "rights" in the same phrase seems unthinkable, right? Think again. In Georgia, convicted felons have rights and the ability to have rights restored…it's all a process. First off, in Georgia, once an individual's sentence is over (incarceration and/or probation), the person who was convicted instantly is restored his/her right to vote! Yes, you read right, a convicted individual's right to vote is immediately restored after their sentence is completed. This means that all a person who finished their sentence has to do is register to vote. Don't be left out of the 2016 election by failing to vote…after all it's your RIGHT! In fact, it's one of the most important rights granted to United States citizens and there's no reason a convicted felon who has "paid their debt" to society should not exercise that right. When exercising voting rights, remember to educate yourselves on the issues and the candidate and vote according to who you believe will best serve you and your community.
So, now you're thinking, okay, voting rights are great and all (at least every 4 years or so), but you said something about rights restored, what's that about? Well, in Georgia, when an individual has been convicted of a crime, they are stripped of certain civil and political rights that are not automatically restored, including the right to sit on a jury, the right to run for and hold public office, and the right to serve as a notary public. However, a convicted felon can submit an application to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to restore the civil rights that were lost upon conviction. All sentences must have been completed at least 2 years prior to submitting the application. Likewise, convicted felons may be eligible to have their crimes pardoned by the State of Georgia through the parole board. Of course, certain conditions must be met, but being pardoned is an official statement of forgiveness for previous crimes and may help convicted felons in their quest for education and/or employment. The point is, convicted felons in Georgia have rights too! Know them!!!
For more information on Pardons and the Restoration of Civil and Political Rights in Georgia, visit the State Board of Pardons and Paroles website: http://pap.georgia.gov/pardons-restoration-rights.
-Faith P. Barrett, Esq.