Governor McDonnell acknowledges that one of his signature campaign proposals was not a total success, but he is touting the progress that’s been made in restoring the rights of non-violent felons. The Governor told the state NAACP at its convention that while both leading gubernatorial candidates have pledged to continue this effort, it's not enough-and now civic leaders must push lawmakers to amend the state Constitution.
The Governor has asked: Since most non-violent offenders will re-enter society, why wouldn't we give them the tools they need to become productive citizens? That includes regaining the rights that others have. But in Virginia, it's still at the Governor's discretion to restore rights on an individualized basis. The General Assembly rejected his proposed constitutional amendment to restore them as soon as offenders have served their time and paid all restitution. McDonnell says while lawmakers mull over similar proposals, he will add more funds in his final budget for programs that help ex-prisoners get back on their feet.
The Governor says he has restored the rights of nearly seven thousand Virginians-16-hundred since his expedited process began in July. He adds proudly that he’s not done.