I am generally pleased with Governor McDonnell’s State of the Commonwealth address. While it left out unqualified support for the Appellate Defender bill that Senator Petersen introduced and I support, it did contain these words that I do strongly support:
While we have significantly improved and fast-tracked the restoration of civil rights process, it’s still an executive process. As a nation that believes in redemption and second chances, we must provide a clear path for willing individuals to be productive members of society once they have served their sentences and paid their fines and restitution. It is time for Virginia to join most of the other states and make the restoration of civil rights an automatic process for non-violent offenders.
This session, Delegates Greg Habeeb and Peter Farrell have introduced bills to address this issue, and I urge you to support legislation for the automatic restoration of rights for non-violent felons.
While I do not think prisoners should vote, if a person has served his or her time and completed any probationary period, they should vote and hold office and if a non-violent felon, should be able to have a gun, too. Governor McDonnell has shown courage and vision here. The General Assembly should pass that bill.
I would say a tiny criticism: I agree with the general idea about the sale tax but PLEASE not .8 percent! the math is terrible. Make it 6%. Spend the rest on good solid bills like a statewide appellate defender’s office.