The 108th Nebraska Legislature’s first session got underway last week. There were 2 proposals introduced relating to voter disenfranchisement that are on my radar.  Senator Justin Wayne renewed another effort this year to eliminate the 2-year ban that prevents citizens convicted of a felony from immediately being eligible to vote upon completion of their sententence. LB2

Never Ending Sentences

LR4CA was also introduced last by Senator Michaela Cavanaugh for the 2nd time to amend the constitution along the Maine & Vermont model.  Maine and Vermont are the only two states in the country that no voter restrictions.  Both of these efforts (LB20 and LR4CA) should be applauded and supported but neither effort goes far enuogh.   Mentioned in the same paragraph with voting disenfranchisement are two other life-time bans (jury service and holding public office) via a felony conviction.

These life-time disenfranchisement are not based on any current convictions but a past felony conviction that may have happened and been completed decades prior – under cutrent law these life-time bans never goes away.  It is counterproductive to continue to punish citizens that have completed their sentence and are attempting to reintergrate into community in terms of  employment, housing and pro social/civic engagement.

Along with voter disenfranchisement via felony conviction, the life-time bans on jury service and holding public must be abolished and tossed on the scrape heap of history with the institutions of slavery and Jim Crow. Without ending these post incarceration punishments sentences never really end.