Formerly Florida Incarcerated Citizens Met with White House Officials To Discuss Policy Changes for Returning Citizens
Sept 15, 2014
Requested Full Rights Restoration Upon Returning to Society
WASHINGTON – Today, representatives from Faith in Florida’s Live Free Campaignmet with White House officials to discuss policy recommendations for returning citizens. They demanded full rights restoration for individuals who have completed their sentences and returned to society. Their requests included restoring the right to vote and implementing policies and practices that prohibit discrimination in the housing and job markets. In addition, the team highlighted the need for a broader conversation beyond formerly incarcerated people and asked that the Department of Justice do extensive and comprehensive investigations into the systemic abuses by police departments and makes specific recommendations for police trainings and community engagement strategies. Currently, a considerable number of returning citizens experience homelessness, largely due to discriminatory housing practices. Many struggle with the job application process, especially if they are required to “check the box” indicating they were once incarcerated. The most integral is losing one’s right to vote, leaving returning citizens feeling invisible to the democratic process.
The group gave testimony of their personal experiences and discriminatory barriers they faced upon returning to society. The voices of formerly incarcerated citizens are most often left out of conversation regarding the very policy changes that impact them, thus making this meeting unique and unprecedented.
“Our goal is to encourage continued dialogue between the White House and the returning citizens community and to achieve a consensus on policy changes that will benefit marginalized communities, enhance public safety and value the lives of all God’s children,” said Desmond Meade, State Director of Faith in Florida’s Live Free Campaign. “It is important that the voices of returning citizens be heard at the highest level of government. Today we served as the emissaries of over 65 million returning citizens throughout this nation.”
Faith in Florida’s Live Free Campaign is a national movement of the PICO network of faith-based organizations and congregations committed to addressing the causes of pervasive violence and crime in our communities. We believe that the criminalization and mass incarceration of people of color, coupled with the lack of meaningful and quality opportunities, have contributed to a state of crisis in our country. Faith in Florida supports restoring civil and voting rights to 1.5 million disenfranchised Florida citizens, the largest disenfranchised population in the nation. Due to rules enacted in 2011, returning citizens must wait 7-13 years for the opportunity to have their rights restored, including rights for housing, education, jobs, and the fundamental right to vote.
The mission of Faith in Florida is to build a powerful, multi-cultural, non-partisan network of congregation community organizations in Florida that will address systemic racial and economic issues that cause poverty for our families. With multiple different religious denominations and faith traditions represented, Faith in Florida seeks to provide a prophetic, interfaith voice on rights restoration, immigrant justice and health care expansion. Faith in Florida is nonpartisan and is not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.