A central tenet of our criminal justice system is that when someone is punished for a crime—and that person abides by all the conditions imposed by the courts—once the punishment is at an end, he or she should be given a fair chance again to become a useful and productive member of society.
It’s more of a principle in theory than in practice. Ask any ex-felon who has found himself turned down for a job once his criminal past has come to light and you’ll see that’s the case. But at least in terms of how that person is treated by the government, he should have the same rights and privileges as those afforded every other citizen.
Here in Virginia, that hasn’t always been the case. Virginia was one of four states (along with Kentucky, Florida and Iowa) that had made it nearly impossible for ex-felons to vote. Or run for office. Or serve on a jury. Or become a notary public.
All that changed on Friday when Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order...
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