February 24, 2021
PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt testified before the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Oregon Senate Bill 571, which would restore voting rights to those who are incarcerated.
You may view the District Attorney’s full testimony by clicking here.
An excerpt from the District Attorney’s public testimony is included below.
“There is nothing rehabilitative about being cut off from society, in fact its harmful. Research consistently shows that ties to family and community are protective factors in terms of decreasing the likelihood of future criminal conduct. And, there is even research that specifically suggests that voting reduces recidivism.
I submit that there are zero public safety justifications for preventing someone from voting – so then what is the motivation? We could and should discuss racist motivations, and systems that were setup with the purpose to subjugate and oppress. And while that’s true, I think what it really says to the person who is incarcerated is that “you aren’t one of us.” Stripping someone of a right that others have fought and died for sends the message that ‘you are less than – you aren’t worthy.’
People make mistakes, sometimes horrible and even unforgiveable mistakes. But what does it say about us as a society to dehumanize our fellow human beings? I want to live in a place that holds people accountable, protects public safety, and treats everybody with dignity and humanity – no matter what you have done in your life. That is a hopeful society. And restoring the right to vote to those who are incarcerated is at its core a gesture of hope – it gives people the right to dream, to participate, to care.
And as my friend Senator Jackie Winters used to say, it will make people a good future neighbor.”
For more information on SB 571, please click here.
Brent Weisberg, Communications Director
Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office