Civil Rights Activists Help Ex-Felons with Restoration of Rights Process

WSET.com - ABC13

Danville, VA-- Several Civil Rights organizations across the state came together on Saturday to advocate for people with a criminal history.

Governor Bob McDonnell said he would automatically restore the civil rights of non-violent ex-felons. Now, leaders are stepping up to help in that process..

The group is called Restoration Campaign, and they helped some people in Danville.

Their main mission is to help as many people as they can, take advantage of the Governor's new initiative.

Since the beginning of August, three civil rights activists have been hitting the road to advocate for former criminals all over the Commonwealth.

"Under the Governor's initiative to restore some of the non-violent offenders, of that 400,000, approximately under 100,000 maybe eligible to have their rights restored," said Lillie Branch-Kennedy, tour organizer.

So Branch-Kennedy started the 15-City Mobile Justice Tour, their fifth stop was in Danville.

They helped ex-felons with all the paperwork necessary to have the restoration of their rights, with the most important one, being able to vote.

"It's heart warming to me to know that I've been able to assist them," said Richard Walker, Civil Rights Activist. "I've been able to get seven applicants. Three of the gentlemen have never voted in their entire lives."

The group also educated the public about a new policy in a few localities in Virginia, called "Ban the Box".

"The application process, the box in which they check whether or not they are a convicted felon will be deferred until the interview process," said Branch-Kennedy.

She said this way, ex-felons can actually have a chance at making it further in the process of getting a job.

"We are all one and we want to empower Virginia to be at its best," said Branch-Kennedy.

The group also talked about a new initiative they're working on that will help those currently incarcerated, prepare for successful reentry into society.

The next stop of the Mobile Justice Tour is in Norfolk.