Voting as rehabilitation for ex-felon


Just a few days before the election Patricia Wysock, 42, was confused as to where she should go to vote: do people vote by their office or home address? The uncertainty was understandable: this would be her first time voting since Ronald Reagan was in office. She has spent much of the past two decades in and out of prison – eight years total – for forgery and fraud charges.

Over 12,000 New Yorkers are released from prison each year and many of them wrongly assume that a felony conviction prohibits them from voting, according to the NYCLU. To address the problem various advocacy groups throughout the city have held voter registration drives aimed at former felons.

Patricia, who now works for Fortune Society, an advocacy center for formerly incarcerated people, sees voting as an important step in her rehabilitation.

“Participating in voting is esteemable” Patricia said, “and it makes me feel like I am more of an esteemable person. It shows that my voice matters and I have opinions and they are being recognized.”

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: Did you just regain your right to vote after spending time in prison? How did you feel voting again?

Or are you still struggling to regain your voting rights? How did you feel missing out in voting during the historic 2008 election?

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Joel Schectman attends the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His focus is economic and international reporting. He graduates in December 2009.

About Joel Schectman