Convicted Felons Voting Rights Bill Dead in Mississippi Committee

Jackson, MS: House Bill 1609 was passed with a significant majority in the House. The law encountered resistance upon its passage to the Senate.

“That is a direct insult to the residents of Mississippi who are currently facing that difficult situation,” stated Kabir Karriem, the bill’s author from District 41.

The document was forwarded to the Senate Constitution Committee but it was never presented for deliberation. The proposed legislation aimed to reinstate suffrage privileges for individuals who have been convicted of felonies for specific nonviolent offenses, including but not limited to bribery, theft, perjury, and forgery.

“You have a Senate Committee chair who refuses to address the question of why you did not examine this bill,” Karriem stated. There exists a faction inside the State Capital that exhibits a reluctance to restore individuals’ rights, irrespective of the underlying rationale. Perhaps they lack comprehension of the 1890 Mississippi constitution, which enacted those restrictions with the explicit intention of disenfranchising voters, specifically black voters, so introducing a subtle element of racism inside our constitution.

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Despite the bill’s failure in this session, Karriem and Shanks assert that the battle is ongoing and they want to formulate additional legislation on this matter in the upcoming year.

According to Karriem, individuals who advocate for their rights and those who experience disenfranchisement should not surrender. “We will persist in our struggle.” Once again, a multitude of individuals in the Capital hold belief in this legislation, who are proponents of criminal justice reform, and they are determined to persist in their efforts.

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Senator Angela Hill now holds the position of chairwoman of the Senate Constitution Committee. When questioned about her decision not to introduce the measure in committee, she informed WLBT that she had no stance on the matter at that moment.