Gov. Matt Bevin today restored the right to vote and hold public office to 284 more prior offenders who have completed their respective sentences and have applied for restoration of their civil rights.
The orders are pending final background reviews by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. They exclude individuals convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason.
“As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it is fitting to reflect upon the many blessings that we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America,” said Gov. Bevin. “The opportunity for second chances and redemption has been a cornerstone principle of our great nation since its inception.
“The criminal justice system should not exist solely to punish offenders, but also to rehabilitate and assimilate them back into society. Through this executive action, we are empowering men and women with the opportunity to become contributing members of our communities. Restoring the voting rights of certain prior offenders who have paid their debt to society is a significant step towards achieving this goal. There will be many more such opportunities in the months and years ahead.”
A total of 308 Kentuckians have had their civil rights restored thus far, as the Bevin Administration continues to work through the backlog of applications it inherited in December 2015. Each individual application is carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.
While the orders restore the right to vote and hold public office, they do not restore any other civil right, including but not limited to the right to receive, possess or transport in commerce a firearm or serve on a jury.
The Bevin Administration has initiated groundbreaking criminal justice reform efforts aimed at removing barriers for offenders to successfully reenter society.
In 2016, Gov. Bevin signed into law historic felony expungement legislation that gives non-violent felony offenders who have paid their debt to society a second chance. House Bill 40 allows Kentuckians convicted of certain Class D felonies—who have paid their debt to society, have stayed out of trouble as required by the law, and have shown that they are indeed trying to get back on track—to erase their criminal records and obtain a second chance at jobs, housing, and other opportunities sometimes denied felons.
Also, this past February, Gov. Bevin issued an executive order that removes questions about criminal history from the initial application for state jobs in the executive branch. The Fair Chance Employment Initiative means that applicants will not be required to check the box for criminal convictions on the initial state application, a policy in line with twenty-four states and more than 150 cities and counties across the nation.
Individuals who are interested in applying for restoration of their civil rights may do so by obtaining a form at any Probation and Parole office, or by contacting the Department of Corrections at 502-782-2248 or online at corrections.ky.gov, and returning the form to the address listed.
A spreadsheet listing all Kentuckians who have had their civil rights restored during the Bevin Administration can be downloaded here.