Celebrating 40 Years:
THE HISPANIC BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY SUPPORTS BILL S-2100/A-3456, WHICH REMOVES THE PROHIBITION ON VOTING BY PERSONS CONVICTED OF AN INDICTABLE OFFENSE WHO ARE ON PAROLE, PROBATION, OR SERVING SENTENCE.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2019
The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (“HBA-NJ”) supports bill S-2100/A-3456, proposed legislation that would restore voting rights to nearly 100,000 New Jerseyans by removing prohibitions on voting currently imposed upon people convicted of an indictable offense who are on parole, probation or serving a sentence.
Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy. Felon disenfranchisement laws have historically been used to deprive racial minorities, including the Latinx community of New Jersey, of their basic right to vote. Statistics show that, currently, people of color, including the Latinx community, make up a large percentage of the nearly 100,000 persons prohibited to vote because of criminal convictions. As a result, felon disfranchisement laws disparately impact our Latinx and minority communities and unfairly dilute the Latinx political power in this State.
The Latinx community, in its entirety, should and must have a voice in effectuating change in New Jersey by having the right to elect State leaders and to vote on important public policies and law. Felon disenfranchisement is a tool used to silence that voice, and the adoption of bill S-2100/A-3456 would reverse the prejudicial impact disenfranchisement has had on the Latinx community and other communities.
The HBA-NJ believes that criminal punishment and the right to elect representatives have no legitimate or logical connection to criminal deterrence. Our criminal justice system punishes by taking a person’s liberty through incarceration or limiting it through probation or parole. Such punishment is sufficient as studies have shown that stripping a person of his or her right to vote does not have a deterrent effect on criminal conduct. Bill S-2100/A-3456 would facilitate rehabilitation for the nearly 100,000 individuals currently ineligible to vote by giving a traditionally underrepresented population a voice to effectuate positive change within their own communities.
Voting is one of the most significant rights conferred by citizenship. As stated by Chief Justice Earl Warren, “[c]itizenship is not a license that expires upon misbehavior.” The commission of a crime must be punished, but it does not remove the felon from our society and should not strip them of their basic constitutional right to vote, which is derived from citizenship. Bill S-2100/A-3456 would restore this right, and the HBA-NJ proudly supports and endorses its passage. HBA-NJ President Melinda Colón Cox noted: “Today, throughout the State of New Jersey, citizens are exercising their right to vote in the elections and thousands of our Latinx community members are currently unable to exercise that same fundamental right. It is time for change and it is time to empower and support our community by supporting the restoration of their right to vote. Passage of bill S-2100/A-3456 will promote fairness and justice in our voting system, will encourage the rehabilitation of convicted felons by making it known that they remain a part of our society, and will further empower and educate our community members by giving them a voice and the ability to effectuate real change in this State. The HBA-NJ proudly supports the bill and we are here to assist.”
About The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Founded in 1980, the HBA-NJ is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association that is comprised of attorneys, judges, law professors, law students, and other professionals who share a common interest in addressing the issues affecting Hispanics within the legal community.
The purpose of the Association is to serve the public interest: (i) by cultivating the art and science of jurisprudence, (ii) by advancing the standing of the legal profession, and (iii) by preserving high standards of integrity, honor, and professional courtesy among Hispanic lawyers.
Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
P.O. Box 25562, Newark, NJ 07101
For press inquiries, please contact: Alba V. Aviles, Esq., HBA-NJ Press Secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973) 966-8034.
For more information about the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, please visit our website at: www.njhba.org or contact Melinda Colón Cox, Esq., HBA-NJ President, at Melinda.Cox@piblaw.com or (908) 333-6214.
©2019 Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.