by James A. Bacon
Virginia Republicans have excoriated Governor Terry McAuliffe for endeavoring to issue a blanket restoration of civil rights to ex-felons. So, what’s their alternative?
First and most important, Republicans are submitting their proposals as bills that can be reviewed, debated, and amended. The process is transparent, and the public will have a chance to weigh in.
Second, a legislative package announced by Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem sets different standards for violent and non-violent offenders. Explains Habeeb in a press release (no link):
The constitutional amendment would allow non-violent offenders, as defined by the General Assembly, to automatically receive their political rights after they have completed their sentence, including all supervised or unsupervised probation, and paid all fines, fees, court costs, and restitution. Violent offenders would be allowed to apply to the governor two years after they have completed their sentence and any probation. The governor would be allowed to restore rights on an individual basis after they have paid their fines, fees, court costs, and restitution.
Everyone deserves an opportunity at redemption, but the nature and severity of the crimes should be taken into consideration and a second chance should only come after they have completed their entire sentence, which includes paying their debts to the justice system and to victims.
The package, which is co-sponsored by De. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico, and Peter Farrell, R-Henrico, also would restore the right to own a firearm to non-violent offenders.
There’s a lot to debate here, but I’d wager this package comes closer than a blanket restoration of rights to reflecting the sentiments of most Virginians. But we really won’t know for sure until we subject the proposal to the legislative process. It’s called democracy. Some people still believe in the concept.There are currently no comments highlighted.