HARRISONBURG -- Non-violent felons in Virginia may begin the process to regain voting and civil rights. Governor Bob McDonnell said this could start once all the conditions are met.
The new process put into effect Monday will help many non-violent felons. One felon said the opportunity to vote gives him hope.
Ernest Edward Johns JR. was in jail for a total of 13 years. All of his crimes were non-violent. Today Johns is a changed man.
"I'm thinking that it will help me in a manor that it would empower me to be an instrumental part in my community," said Johns. "Giving me the right to vote again is that first step in making me think. Feeling like I am a returning resident rather than somebody who is on probation or parole and a label with a number."
With the new system in place felons need to meet all the requirements. One requirement said felons need to pay all fees. Johns said that's one thing he has to wait on.
"3-5 years, that would be my target goal," said Johns.
Governor McDonnell said restoring non-violent felons their civil and voting rights is smart government.
"I believe America is the land of second chances. People make mistakes. But in the land of opportunity if you want to serve your time and pay your debt to society, people ought to have their rights restored and be law abiding citizens," said McDonnell.
"Thumbs up to the governor," said Johns.
All non-violent felons must have served all of their time, probation and parole. Felons also have to have no pending felonies and have paid all of their court costs, fines and restitution.
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