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Voting just one right on list of ex-felons' needs

Date published: 2/1/2013

Gov. Bob McDonnell is promoting quite a controversial proposal: the restoration of voting rights to some convicted felons.

Not long ago, I was of the same opinion as many reading this: "Why bother? They don't deserve restoration of any rights."

This seemed like a valid opinion to me, until the controversial subject became closer to being personal.

Upon being released, a convicted felon is told that he now has a second chance to make some good of his life. But how many of you reading this are aware that the former felon has to overcome the lack of several unrestored "rights" in order to even begin to be a credit to society?

Not being able to vote is one. Restoring this right does not put food on his table, but it could give him a positive sense of his worth contributing to the community.

The "rights" that are taken away and not restored are ones that directly affect how he is able to cope with the daily demands of surviving, like eligibility for subsidized housing programs. Without a job, or if he is medically unable to get a job, where does a convicted felon go to live? Back on the streets?

Why is recidivism so high? Not many viable options, are there? The easy answer for those of us who have never been there: "Not my problem!"

I want to thank Gov. McDonnell for proposing an unpopular but humanitarian solution to those who have erred, served their time, and now desire to live as positive citizens. But we shouldn't stop with the restoration of individual voting rights.

G. Daland Webb

Locust Grove