Civil Rights

ACLU 'Juneteenth' for Florida Ex-Cons

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Seeking to help disenfranchised former convicts in Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union is promoting a “Juneteenth” effort. Its purpose is to make them aware of a state clemency program and help them apply for a restoration of their civil rights–including the right to vote.

The effort takes its name from a “Juneteenth” holiday celebrated in several states, particularly among African-Americans. It commemorates the belated news received by former slaves in Texas, as legend has it, on June 19, 1865, that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves years earlier, explains the Miami Herald.

An ex-con may not realize that he has to inform corrections officials of his current address to participate in the little-publicized clemency program. Plus, the three-tiered program may require more information from some, in a detailed application that project workers can help can help them complete, explains ACLU attorney Muslima Lewis.

”If they don’t fall into first group, we ask them to compile a portfolio of supporting documents, references, info on community service they’ve done,” she says. “We tell people, `You are more than just a conviction. Let’s give them a full picture of your life.’ “

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