Huntsville lawyer hosts free workshops to help restore suffrage

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A Huntsville attorney is helping give those convicted of felony a second chance at life. Thanks to the Redeemer Act passed last year by Governor Kay Ivey, some ex-criminals are allowed to vote; however, some may not know where to start.

Alabama was one of the few states to ban felons from voting for life until 2014, when lawmakers passed an initiative giving felons who have served their sentences only a partial vote.

“For a very long time Alabama had no way to remove any type of criminal record from your record, even if you were arrested and never charged or charged and it was dismissed, you were stuck with that in your record” said Bradford Ladner, a Birmingham-based criminal defense lawyer.

Last April, Governor Ivey signed into law a new debarment law. An expungement is like an annulment – it basically means the prosecution never happened. In the state of Alabama, people convicted of a felony can still vote unless they are convicted of a felony felony. However, some may not know this.

“Especially given that there’s a certain portion of the population here that has historically been targeted,” said Raven Perry-Beach of Beach Law Practice in Huntsville.

Beach says she heard a once-convicted felon tell her they couldn’t vote because of their record. She decided to use her passion to help people help others learn about their right to vote, while teaching about the law of disbarment: all for free.

“It gives them the opportunity to come in and breathe new life,” Beach said.

With the expungement law already in place, the Redeemer Act expanded the voting rights of convicted felons. Despite the law, Alabama has one of the highest rates of disenfranchisement of African Americans in the nation.

“Not only do we want to give people a second chance, but we want people to be able to go out and vote,” Beach said. “I mean, it’s election season.”

Madison County Commissioner Violet Edwards will lead the free workshops beginning June 13 at 5 p.m. in the District Six Community Hall at 3210 Hi-Lo Circle, Huntsville, Ala. 35811.

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