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Convicted felons testify at Mississippi House Judiciary Committee B hearing on voting right restoration

Roy Harness, who served time for forgery, testifies before House Judiciary Committee B on not...
Roy Harness, who served time for forgery, testifies before House Judiciary Committee B on not having the right to vote(WLBT)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 9:16 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If you do the crime and serve the time, should you lose your right to vote? There are some who would like to see voting rights restored to convicted felons in Mississippi.

Representative Nick Bain, chairman of House Judiciary Committee-B, heard from a panel of advocates and lawyers on the status of felony disenfranchisement in the state of Mississippi and the next steps the legislature must take in addressing the issue.

There were also personal testimonies from two men who would like to see their voting rights restored.

Roy Harness is an army veteran who served time after committing forgery, he said, to feed his addiction.

”I’ve went to change my life. I became a productive citizen of the state of Mississippi. I have several types of degrees, but I still can’t vote and I work with the population that I try to instill to not get to this point,” said Harness.

Dennis Hopkins, convicted of grand larceny in 1998, now has his own business and works as a volunteer firefighter.

Hopkins said, ”And I’m ashamed to tell my children that, you know, I can’t vote, because nobody’s proud and I’m very shameful and branded for the rest of my life and I’m very ashamed of even going to prison in the first place, but at the same time, I know that Jesus Christ forgave me.”

Right now, to regain voting rights in Mississippi, a person convicted of a disenfranchising crime must win permission from two-thirds of the state House and Senate.

In 2021, the state senate killed 19 House bills to restore voting rights to Mississippians.

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