Convicted felons serving jail sentences in California county jails will now get to participate in an activity besides three meals a day and recreation time: votingin elections.
Governor Jerry Brown signed new legislation into effect as part of a reform backers say will help prisoners transition back into society while still serving time for their crimes.
The bill he signed would let thousands of felons doing time in county jails to vote in California elections, the LA Times reported.
The new law also reinstates eligibility to vote for those ex-prisoners on probation or being kept under community supervision starting next year.
The new law takes effect January 1, so will have no impact on this November’s elections.
One state lawmaker, Sen. Patricia Bates, slammed the legislation. “It is very disappointing that felons still serving their sentences behind bars will now be able to vote since Governor Brown failed to veto this really bad bill,” she said in a statement.
But Daniel Zingale, senior vice president of The California Endowment health foundation, told the paper, ‘Mass disenfranchisement for minor offenses is a tragic legacy of the Jim Crow era that disproportionately affects and diminishes the power of communities of color.’
California’s action fits within a broader national push to expand voting rights for ex-felons, with laws getting determined state by state….