Testimony on SB 25: An Act Restoring Electoral Privileges to Felony Convicts Who Are On Parole

February 15, 2019

Committee on Government Administration and Elections

Submitted By: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

The Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, representing over 2500 members, supports Committee Bill No. 25.

The right to vote should only be taken away for the most egregious of circumstances. Voting is what makes this state, and nation, a democratic society. It is imperative that Connecticut takes all necessary steps to assure that the maximum number of our residents have the right to exercise their right of franchise to vote.

An individual who having committed a felony is now on parole should be given every opportunity to be reinstated as a full participant in our society. We should be encouraging civic engagement as one means of re-involving parolees into their community. If we expect those on parole to be “good citizens” we need to treat them as such, and that means extending to them the right to vote.

Part of our judicial system is to hold accountable those who have committed a felony. Incarceration is one way in which we do so, and parole is a step down that recognizes that that the individual can safely return to the community while finishing their term of conviction. For a parolee who is now returned to the community SB 25 provides an important step to establishing one’s full rights and recognizes the ongoing rehabilitative purposes of parole.

If we expect those who committed a felony to move forward in a positive manner with their lives, we need to take steps to facilitate such a change. Denying voting rights is an unnecessary, and punitive measure that serves no positive outcomes. Denying voting rights can be psychologically detrimental to the parolee, impedes re-engagement with the community and denies parolees the right to participate in the electoral process that both directly and indirectly impacts on their lives.

NASW/CT urges the Government Administration & Elections to favorably report out Committee Bill No. 25.

Speak Your Mind