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Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Restore Voting Rights to Qualifying Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA) and 10 colleagues in introducing the Next Step Home Act, legislation aimed at restoring voting rights for individuals with felony convictions who have been released under the First Step Act and successfully reentered society.

“Despite having served their sentences and working to reintegrate to society, millions of previously incarcerated Americans are still unjustly denied access to the ballot,” said Senator Hirono. “The right to vote is essential to our democracy and I’m proud to support the Next Step Home Act to help ensure returning citizens can make their voices heard.”

The Next Step Home Act would build on the success of the First Step Act, a landmark bill that jumpstarted reform of the criminal justice system, requiring the Attorney General to develop a risk and needs assessment system for the Federal Bureau of Prisons to assess recidivism risk needs for federal prisoners and to place them in programs to address needs and reduce risk of recidivism. Under the First Step Act, recidivism rates among its beneficiaries is at 12.4% and the legislation has helped reduce the population in overcrowded prisons by at least 30,000 people.

4.6 million Americans are currently disenfranchised from federal elections due to felony convictions—a figure that is four times as high since the onset of mass incarceration in 1973. The Next Step Home Act continues efforts in criminal justice reform by restoring federal voting rights to individuals released from incarceration under the First Step Act.

This legislation is endorsed by The Brennan Center, League of Women Voters, End Citizens United, Move to Amend, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), Alliance for Safety and Justice, Sojourners-SojoAction, and United Church of Christ.

In addition to Senators Hirono and Butler, the Next Step Home Act is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL.), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full text of the legislation is available here.