Emilee Shell fighting for voting rights for people in Mississippi with felony convictions

April 19, 2024

Earlier this week, Emilee Shell (Leading with Conviction™ 2023) spoke with media at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, following a legislative hearing where a group of legislators were told about the difficulties that people with felony convictions face in regaining their right to vote.

According to the Associated Press: “Mississippi is among the 26 states that remove voting rights from people for criminal convictions … Mississippi’s original list of disenfranchising crimes springs from the Jim Crow era, and attorneys who have sued to challenge the list say authors of the state constitution removed voting rights for crimes they thought Black people were more likely to commit.

Attorneys … say authors of the state constitution removed voting rights for crimes they thought Black people were more likely to commit.

“Under the Mississippi Constitution, people lose the right to vote for 10 felonies, including bribery, theft and arson. The state’s previous attorney general, a Democrat, issued a ruling in 2009 that expanded the list to 22 crimes, including timber larceny and carjacking.

“In 1950, Mississippi dropped burglary from the list of disenfranchising crimes. Murder and rape were added in 1968. Attorneys representing the state in one lawsuit argued that those changes ‘cured any discriminatory taint,’ and the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court agreed in 2022.

“To have voting rights restored, people convicted of any of the crimes must get a pardon from the governor or persuade lawmakers to pass individual bills just for them, with two-thirds approval of the House and Senate. Lawmakers in recent years have passed few of those bills, and they passed none in 2023.

“Two lawsuits in recent years have challenged Mississippi’s felony disenfranchisement. The U.S. Supreme Court said in June that it would not reconsider the 2022 5th Circuit decision.

“The same appeals court heard arguments on the other case in January and has not issued a ruling.

“In March, the Republican-controlled Mississippi House voted 99-9 to pass a bill that would have allowed automatic restoration of voting rights for anyone convicted of theft, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, forgery, bigamy or ‘any crime interpreted as disenfranchising in later Attorney General opinions.’ The restoration would occur five years after conviction or after release from prison, whichever is later.”

Read the full story at APnews.com.

(Photo above: Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

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