WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Felony offenders who have served their sentences and were released from jail should regain their right to vote, President Barack Obama said at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) national convention in Philadelphia.
“If folks have served their time and they’ve re-entered society, they should be able to vote,” Obama stated on Tuesday.
About 5.85 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of laws that prohibit voting by people with felony convictions, resulting in one of every 13 African Americans being unable to vote, according to the Sentencing Project.
The President argued that the United States should strive to give young Americans a fair chance to succeed, rather than limit them for past transgressions.
“Communities that give our young people every shot at success, courts that are tough but fair, prisons that recognize eventually the majority will be released, and seek to prepare these returning citizens to grab that second chance, that’s where we need to build,” Obama said.
Obama also called for erasing the portion of job application forms that show a person’s conviction history so as to increase their chances of landing a job.
With 2.2 million people in jail and another 4.5 million on probation or parole, the United States has the largest prison population in the world.
About half of all inmates are imprisoned on non-violent drug-related offences, according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.