Long after court requirements are satisfied, many Americans are denied basic rights like employment, voting, housing, property, child custody, and college loans that keep them from

We encourage communities to and have open conversations

to replace the negative stereotyped images of

Congratulations Harry for getting your right to vote back! See his story at cruelconsequences.org

Do you have your right to vote? Many who do have this right, sadly don’t exercise that right.

Harry Kelso, one of our portrait participants VOTED FOR THE FIRST TIME yesterday since being released from prison in 2017 for his marijuana conviction. He served 10 years behind bars, a hardship few can imagine. But an often overlooked cruel consequence of any felony charge is that your right to vote is taken away. Harry voted at the local level yesterday, but will also vote for his choice for a U.S. president in November. Both are important in changing marijuana policy. Restoration of voting rights after a felony varies from state to state and there is a trend moving towards giving automatic restoration to felons after incarceration, but that does not mean voter registration is automatic. Harry is in Virginia, and he had to initiate the steps on his own to regain his constitutional right to vote. He has also had to petition the court to regain several other civil rights including his 2nd Amendment rights which he is awaiting a decision.

It’s known our country’s founding fathers did not want everyone to have the right to vote. Women and Blacks are two groups who have fought to have this right at all . The fight for these rights follow the waves of improvement in our nation’s social conscience and states like Virginia are reckoning with their dark historical relationship with slavery. But differences still vary among states. In two, Maine and Vermont, felons retain the right to vote DURING INCARCERATION, but in Iowa, convicted felons NEVER regain the right to vote.

A key reason marijuana is not legal yet is because it’s not an important issue enough for voters to behave in ways to elect the right leaders at EVERY level: local, state, and in federal elections. Many people with felony marijuana convictions, even celebrities like Snoop Dog recently admitted he believed he could never vote again. Snoop Dog did say this year is different and he never wanted his rights back more than now with all that is happening.

Cruel Consequences: Portraits of Misguided Law encourages those who have had their constitutional right to vote revoked because of a marijuana charge to contact election officials in your jurisdiction for the most accurate information available or these groups for more help:

The Sentencing Project – https://sentencingproject.org

Restoration of Rights Project – https://www.nacdl.org

Many states will not allow you to vote if you are not registered well in advance of the election. In Virginia, you must be registered at least 22 days before an election. It is 130 days before the November election. Don’t let time run out – 2020 matters!

What are people saying about Cruel Consequences: Portraits of Misguided Law?

Buta Biberaj
Buta BiberajLoudon County, Va. Commonwealth's Attorney
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"As a lawyer and a judge, I witnessed first hand possession of marijuana cases that were harshly prosecuted and resulted in doing greater damage to our community than warranted. It was my pleasure to have Cruel Consequences participate in our presentation “Marijuana and the Impact on Communities.” Their art and case information was a great segue for our community members to learn how the criminal justice has been weaponized and destroyed lives in the name of “tough on crime”. Further, the conversations were respectful, thoughtful and engaging. Thank you Tamara and your team for highlighting this very important social issue."

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