JUSTUS15 MISSION STATEMENT
The Justus15 Initiative was born because of the pressing need to eliminate barriers that seek to prevent or interfere with formerly incarcerated citizens’ rights guaranteed to them under the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (passed by Congress February 26, 1869 and ratified February 3, 1870) granted African American men the right to vote and states: “Right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state because race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
- However, because of various efforts to interfere with voting rights, it would take 100 years through the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the rights guaranteed under the 15th Amendment would become a reality.
Unfortunately, efforts to interfere with this right continues today from restrictive voter i.d legislation to restrictions that seek to disenfranchise formerly incarcerated citizens. Such efforts include blanket disenfranchisement for felony convictions, to laws that require petitioning for the return of such rights to laws that place a time limit for restoring these rights.
What the Justus15 Initiative seeks to do is to eliminate all voting restrictions on men and women formerly incarcerated and to get all states to restore voting rights immediately upon discharge the same as the expectations to pay taxes and participate in the United States Census. In Nebraska, formerly incarcerated men and women must wait two years to vote. This restriction makes about as much since as the Jim Crow-Era voting qualifying questions that asked how many bubbles were in a bar of soap.
Why is Justus15 so important to returning citizens…
- It’s just us who after gaining employment and securing housing, that voting is the next most important civic exercise in reintegration, resocialization and inclusion as part of society.
- It’s just uswho’s head count (Census) helps to disperse financial resources but we can’t.
- It’s just uswho pay the same sales and property taxes as other citizens we but can’t vote.
- It’s just uswho are treated as 2nd class citizens although our felony conviction didn’t forfeit our citizenship.
- It’s just us who represent the 7,000+ Nebraskans disenfranchised from voting due to a felony conviction.
- It’s just us who are arbitrarily targeted by a two-year waiting period that serves no administrative or policy purposes.
- It’s just us who studies have demonstrated that voting is a pro-social behavior linked to reducing crime and increasing public safety.
It’s just us that must seek justice to restore our right to vote without delay.
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