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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Almost a hundred members of Faith in Action Alabama signed a letter urging Alabama Speaker of The House Rep. Mac McCutcheon to support a bill that would give former convicts the right to vote again.

Many states have already approved similar bills, and SB118 would restore voting rights to thousands of former prisoners without including their remaining court fees and criminal fines as a prerequisite.

The Alabama prison population has been over-represented by African-American inmates compared to the state population makeup for a long time, with about 54 percent in state prisons being Black.

This gives Rev. Jacqueline Wilson of Phillips CME Church in Huntsville reason to believe that giving former inmates an opportunity to participate in democracy again would be a “turning point in Alabama’s civil rights history,” in addition to helping the community at home and helping to reduce recidivism.

“(Former inmates are) paying taxes like everyone else, but they feel like they’re being taxed without representation,” Wilson says. “And they feel like they’re paying taxes like everybody else but asking, ‘why can’t I vote?’ It would show that we’re moving together. It would show togetherness by both sides, both parties’ sides.”

SB118 was first proposed by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) and now awaits action in the House. Wilson says Faith in Action Alabama is confident it can land enough votes to eventually pass to the governor’s desk.