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Commonwealth of Virginia
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For media inquiries only, contact:  Brian J. Gottstein
Email: bgottstein@oag.state.va.us (best contact method)
Phone: 804-786-5874

Statement of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on House Subcommittee Vote Against Automatic Restoration of Rights Amendments

RICHMOND (January 14, 2013) - Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement after a House subcommittee vote against proposed constitutional amendments that would provide for the automatic restoration of rights for individuals who have committed nonviolent felonies but have served their full sentences and paid all fines and fees. Attorney General Cuccinelli testified in support of restoration of rights for these individuals this morning before the House Privileges and Elections Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee. The attorney general also supported putting a list of specific nonviolent felonies for which restorations of rights would be available in the code of Virginia.

Additionally, in November 2012, the attorney general issued two separate official opinions strengthening the governor's power to restore civil rights to former felons. The first opinion related to the restoration of the right to serve as a juror, while the second opinion related to the restoration of the right to seek political office.  

"I have long railed against politicians ratcheting up several low-level, nonviolent offenses from misdemeanors to felonies -- what I call 'felony creep.' Many lower-level offenses should not result in the permanent loss of civil rights for individuals. That's why we ought to make it easier for those who have committed certain nonviolent offenses and served their punishment to regain their place in society. I am in favor of setting out in the code a list of selected nonviolent felonies for which restoration of rights would be available.

"Though I am disappointed with this morning's outcome, I will continue to keep up the fight on this important issue. I would welcome the opportunity to testify before members of the Senate in an effort to underscore the importance of the restoration of civil rights to these individuals. I encourage other members of the General Assembly to join me in this important fight."

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A copy of this news release may be found on the attorney general's web site here.

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