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Colorado Supreme Court upholds parolee voting ban

[JURIST] The Colorado Supreme Court [official website] ruled Monday that a state law prohibiting felons from voting while on parole does not violate the Colorado Constitution. The unanimous court affirmed the decision of the Denver district court, holding that parole is part of a convict's "full term of imprisonment," even though parole did not exist when the voting provisions of the state constitution [text] were adopted. According to the court's opinion [text, PDF],

Conditional release on parole - an extension of one’s confinement intended to aid the reintegration of criminals into society - was never intended to be the sort of unconditional release that the Colorado Constitution envisions will be accompanied by the full restoration of a person’s rights.

A parolee is given certain privileges to assist in returning to community while testing his or her capability to adhere to restrictions imposed. The convicted person can be reincarcerated for a parole violation and does not enjoy the full panoply of legal rights a person not serving a sentence enjoys.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado [advocacy website] brought the lawsuit [complaint, PDF; ACLU press release and backgrounder] against the Colorado secretary of state on behalf of Pastor Michael Danielson, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) and the Colorado chapter of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (Colorado-CURE) [advocacy website]. Danielson and the groups challenged the constitutionality of a statute [text] passed in 1995 providing, in part, that "[n]o person ... while serving a sentence of parole shall be eligible to register to vote or to vote in any election." AP has more. The Denver Post has local coverage.

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