Sunday, September 26, 2021

Play

New Yorkers voice concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional and state voting districts; and providers ask the Supreme Court to act on Texas' new abortion law.

Play

The January 6th committee subpoenas former Trump officials; a Senate showdown looms over the debt ceiling; the CDC okays COVID boosters for seniors; and advocates testify about scams targeting the elderly.

Play

A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Groups Call for Increased Voting Access in MA Prisons, Jails

Play

Tuesday, July 6, 2021   

BOSTON -- Advocates for voting rights are calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to increase access to the ballot box in jails and prisons before this fall's elections.

People serving felony convictions in the Commonwealth are not eligible to vote, but those convicted of misdemeanors or awaiting trial in jails are.

Al-Ameen Patterson, vice-chair of the African American Coalition Committee, who has been incarcerated in Norfolk for 12 years, said at a town hall with the Democracy Behind Bars Coalition the biggest barriers he sees to voting while incarcerated are lack of awareness about voting eligibility, and sheriffs' failure to provide the necessary information.

"I think the sheriffs are guilty of deliberate indifference because they just show no interest in publishing the rights, the policies and procedures of voting while incarcerated," Patterson contended.

A bill before the General Court would require sheriffs to do more voting outreach, from providing absentee-ballot applications and information about candidates, to requiring counties with more than 800,000 people to have a polling location in the county jail itself.

Groups are also pushing to restore voting rights to those serving felony convictions, as well as to end prison gerrymandering.

Rep. Liz Miranda, D-Boston, added it's a major problem the census counts incarcerated people where prisons are located rather than in their home communities. She noted many prisons are in white suburbs, while most incarcerated people in Massachusetts are from over-policed low-income communities and communities of color.

Miranda said what's known as prison gerrymandering takes political power and resources away from people, many already stripped of their right to vote.

"They're coming from Roxbury and Dorchester, Lawrence and Lowell, and they're living in communities which count them in the census and get resources for their towns, yet they belong to us," Miranda outlined. "It has led to our communities not getting what they deserve."

Miranda added the Commonwealth jails eight times more Black people than white people, and far more Black people are kept from voting because of a felony conviction.

Massachusetts is the most recent state to ban voting while incarcerated for a felony, via a ballot initiative passed in 2000, in response to political organizing within prisons.


get more stories like this via email
The climate resilience package includes $1.5 billion for measures to better defend the state against wildfires. (Peter Buschmann/U.S. Forest Service)

Environment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …


Social Issues

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …

Social Issues

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…


According to the World Health Organization, about one in six people age 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …

Environment

SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…

Roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States. (JP Photography/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …

Environment

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …

Social Issues

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021