Faster Turnaround for Rights Restoration
Governor Bob McDonnell says he and his team have made significant changes to make rights restoration for non-violent felons who have served their sentence the easiest it has ever been in the history of the Commonwealth. Craig Carper reports
Among the changes to existing policy is a new 60-day deadline for all completed applications to be reviewed and decided. Non-violent felons will now be able to apply for rights restoration two years after they complete their sentence, down from three years previously. Electronic submission of documents from applicants as well as law enforcement agencies will now be accepted to expedite the process.
Governor Bob McDonnell
McDonnell: We believe that this will create a much fairer and faster way of having people’s rights restored. I will act on those applications with an eye on reintegrating people into society.
Last month, there was some outcry from the Legislative Black Caucus after it was reported that the Governor was considering a requirement that applicants write an essay outlining their contributions to society since their conviction. The Governor said yesterday space for additional written comments or considerations will be provided, though completion of this section will not be required.
Delegate Jennifer McClellan is a member of the Legislative Black Caucus. She says she would still like to see automatic rights restoration, but called the Governor’s policy a good first step.
McClellan: I think this will at least speed up the process and hopefully streamline it and make it a little easier for people who have been waiting for many years to get their rights restored.
Of the 195 complete applications that the McDonnell administration has reviewed thus far, 175 have resulted in the restoration of rights.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.