But that notion is flat-out wrong. And to make sure that former inmates know their constitutional rights, a group called Ohio Citizen Advocates for Chemical Dependency Prevention and Treatment (OCA) is going into Ohio's prisons to change that misconception.
People who are incarcerated aren't allowed to register to vote while in prison, according to the OCA. After release, however, any former inmate — including those with a felony conviction — may register and vote.
Recovery Voices Count is the name of the program and is part of non-partisan, national campaign to “strengthen the voice of people in recovery from addiction, a statewide,” according to a press release form the group.
“This is the first time we have had the opportunity to take voter education inside the prison system,” says Donna Conley, CEO of OCA. “There are many people in prison because of their addiction, and they need to know about voting for candidates and issues that help people maintain sobriety.”
Conley taught women at the Franklin Pre-Release Center (Columbus) how to register to vote. She also asked them to request more voter education information when they leave prison.
The goal of Recovery Voices Count is to help those people in recovery, their families, friends and other allies to participate in civic engagement. Created by Faces and Voices of Recovery, the group named OCA as the local organization to lead efforts in Ohio. To that end, OCA has set a goal of getting 1,000 new voters registered by the Oct. 6 deadline.
To accomplish this goal, OCA is looking for volunteers to staff voter registration tables at venues across Ohio to encourage all eligible voters to register.
“Hopefully, we can encourage health care providers and addiction rehabilitation centers to set up registration tables too,” Conley says.
— Margo Pierce
(Photo of prison outreach program courtesy of OCA.)