KY Human Rights Commission Executive Director urges public to commit to ending discrimination. KY Human Rights Commission urges restoring right to vote to people convicted of felonies and who have paid their debt to society
Jan. 24, 2013 –
Commission Headquarters – 1 800 292 5566LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, JAN. 24, 2013 – In addition to resolutions passed at its meeting on Jan. 17 by The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Board of Commissioners, the commission passed a resolution to address felony voter restoration. (Follow this link to read about other resolutions passed at the meeting)
The total of seven social justice and civil rights resolutions were in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on Monday, January 21, and are calls for action to government officials and the public.
The Resolution in Support of Felony Voter Re-enfranchisement by Amending Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution says that only four states – Kentucky, Virginia, Iowa and Florida – bar all people convicted of a felony from voting, accept through an executive pardon. In Kentucky, it is estimated that only 10 percent of the 186,000 people with felony convictions are incarcerated while nearly 90 percent reside, work, pay taxes and participate in Kentucky communities having completed their sentences. These people endure, even though they have paid their debt to society, not being able to vote on issues about which they are concerned and that affect their lives and the lives of their families. This prohibits them from full participation as free citizens of the Commonwealth and the nation. Also, the impact of felony convictions disproportionately affects persons of color. In a 2007 report by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, the state has the second highest African American voter disenfranchisement rate in the United States, affecting nearly one in four Kentucky African Americans. . Studies have also found that people with a record of felony conviction who voted after release from supervision were half as likely to be re-arrested compared to those who had not voted. The commission again asks the Governor and the General Assembly to amend Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution to allow for the automatic restoration of voting rights to released felons in terms that are fair and just and that encourage the productive reintegration back into society of such persons.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is the state authority that enforces for the Commonwealth of Kentucky laws against discrimination. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations and financial transactions. People are protected from discrimination in these areas based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability and gender. In housing, people are further protected on the basis of familial status, which covers women who are pregnant and families with children under age 18 in the household. In employment, people are further protected based on age (40-years and over) and on tobacco-smoking status. It is against the law to retaliate against anyone who files a discrimination complaint with the commission.
For more information or help with discrimination, contact the commission at 1.800.292.5566. The TDD telephone number is 502.595.4084. Visit the website for detailed information on the law and the commission’s activities at kchr.ky.gov. From the homepage, link to the Facebook and Twitter pages, which provide civil rights-related news and announcements.
KY Human Rights Commission Executive Director urges public to commit to ending discrimination
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Executive Director John J. Johnson is celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Day by calling on Kentuckians to renew their commitment to ending discrimination and achieving true equal opportunity for all Kentuckians.
He delivered his call to action in a keynote speech to elected officials, students, faculty, and community members at Somerset Community College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast Friday, January 18.
“We should use occasions like this to recommit ourselves to rid America of the violence, hatred, bigotry, and inequality that remains in our nation.” said Johnson. “Those of us who pause to honor Dr. King’s birth and life must leave here with a greater determination and commitment to make real the promise of democracy in this town and throughout our state,” he said.
Noting that Dr. King’s influence, “reached from the greatest corridors of power in this world – to the smallest communities and hollows like those in rural Kentucky,” Johnson also reminded attendees of Dr. King’s direct ties to Kentucky; specifically, his participation in a historic 1964 march to the state capitol in Frankfort, calling for an end to segregation in the Commonwealth.
On Sunday, January 20, Johnson brought his message to parishioners and community members at a Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday church service in Middlesboro, Kentucky. There, he highlighted some of Kentucky’s most pressing civil rights issues: access to high-quality education for all children; protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals; restored voting rights for individuals who have committed felonies; and solutions to poverty and unemployment.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is the state authority that enforces the Kentucky and United States Civil Rights acts, which make discrimination illegal. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodations, housing, and financial transactions. It prohibits discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, national origin, disability and gender. It additionally protects people on the basis of familial status in the area of housing, which covers families with children in the household under age 18-years old and covers women who are pregnant. The bases of age, 40-years old and over, and tobacco-smoking status, are protected in the area of employment. It is against the law to retaliate against any person who complains of discrimination to the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
Press Release Date:
Sunday, January 20, 2013