Virginia governor says he's restored civil rights to 22K felons

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he has restored voting and other civil rights to more than 22,000 felons who have completed their sentences since taking office last year.

Northam announced the milestone Wednesday. The restored rights include the right to vote, serve on a jury and run for public office.

The Democratic governor previously announced in February that he'd restored rights to more than 10,000 felons.

His predecessor, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, made undoing a vestige of the state's Jim Crow era and restoring voting a hallmark of his term in office and restored the rights of more than 170,000 felons.

Virginia is one of a handful of states that permanently limit the civil rights of people convicted of a felony barring gubernatorial intervention.

Below is Gov. Northam's full press release:

Governor Ralph Northam today announced today that since he took office in January 2018, his administration has restored the civil rights of 22,205 Virginians previously convicted of a felony. The civil rights restored include the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and become a notary public.

“Virginia remains one of the few states in the nation that permanently strip individuals of their civil rights after a felony conviction,” said Governor Northam. “I’m proud to use my executive clemency power to restore those rights to Virginians who have completed their sentences and returned to their communities seeking a second chance. This is about doing what is fair and right, and is an important part of our ongoing work to build a stronger, more accessible, and more inclusive Commonwealth.”

Governor Northam announced in February that civil rights had been restored to over 10,000 individuals since the start of his administration, more than any other Virginia governor prior to Terry McAuliffe.

“Since the start of his administration, Governor Northam has been committed to fairness and making sure that Virginia is open and welcoming to everyone,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “The restoration of civil rights is an important step to ensuring that all of our residents are treated equally.”

For more information on restoration of rights and the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, visit restore.virginia.gov.