Good news: as a result of years of advocacy by groups including VOCAL-NY, the Brennan Center, NYCLU, Alliance of Families for Justice, and Let NY Vote, the legislature passed and Governor Cuomo just signed into law a bill lifting a ban on voting rights for parolees. The law allows all formerly incarcerated people in New York the right to vote immediately upon release.
And while New York is not alone in working to roll back Jim Crow-inspired laws disenfranchising those with felony convictions, most states still have these laws on the books. This excellent piece from Refinery29 summarizes the history of these laws which are rooted in systemic racism and disproportionately impact Black men and women. The Sentencing Project estimates that one in every 16 Black adults has lost the right to vote. It is estimated that felony disenfranchisement laws kept more than 5 million people from voting in the 2020 elections.
Florida, however, stands out as having some of the most pernicious felony disenfranchisement laws on the books –which Florida voters tried to rescind with the Voting Restoration Amendment in 2018 but were thwarted by passage of a bill by the Republican controlled Senate requiring the 1.5 million newly enfranchised to pay off all debts prior to voting. This 2018 piece by John Oliver predates that referendum and indicates what advocates face as they try to fight to abolish felony disenfranchisement.