State Watch

Almost 3,500 former convicts regain civil rights in Virginia

AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) announced Friday that the state has restored civil rights to 3,496 formerly incarcerated individuals.

Following their release from prison, those convicted of felonies are eligible to request restoration of their civil rights, including the rights to vote, become a notary public, serve on a jury and run for public office, from the Virginia governor through the office of the secretary of the commonwealth.

“I am encouraged that over 3,400 Virginians will take this critical first step towards vibrant futures as citizens with full civil rights,” Youngkin said in a statement released Friday. “Individuals with their rights restored come from every walk of life and are eager to provide for themselves, their families and put the past behind them for a better tomorrow.”

The governor’s office works with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office and the Virginia Department of Corrections to consider the restoration of formerly incarcerated people’s rights.

The individuals are also vetted by the Department of Elections, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the Compensation Board.

“The restoration of rights process provides a fresh step forward for individuals who have made mistakes, but have done their duty to our community and wish to be full and productive citizens of our Commonwealth,” said Virginia Secretary Kay Coles James in a statement. “I look forward to their successful futures.”

Then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D) changed state policy to restore voting and other civil rights to convicted felons upon completion of their sentences in March 2021 through executive action.

Under Virginia law, people permanently lose such rights after being convicted of a felony and the governor has the sole discretion to restore them.

The governor is unable to restore their right to carry a firearm, however. To have that right restored, they must contact the appropriate local circuit court in Virginia.

Tags Glenn Youngkin Glenn Youngkin Ralph Northam Ralph Northam Virginia

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