Voices of the Experienced, V.O.T.E, is an organization fighting for prison reform in Louisiana

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Louisiana remains the number one state in the country for incarceration. Voices of the Experienced, or V.O.T.E, is an organization focused on improving public safety without relying on mass incarceration.

Over 70,000 people are on probation or parole in the state of Louisiana. These are people who have served their time behind bars, returned back to their communities, are working and paying taxes, yet- still are denied the right to vote.

Voices of the Experienced is a grassroots organization founded and led by formerly incarcerated people, (FIP), their families and supporters. It is a 14-point platform that strives to help people behind bars gain their democratic rights back. The Lafayette chapter conducted a meeting with state officials over the weekend to outline current bills dealing with prison reform. Chapter Leader Consuela Gaines said the organization’s efforts affect everyone in the community. 

“You have people who are trying to transition once they come out of prison, because the majority of people who are incarcerated, they will return to society,” said Gaines. “So, the laws that we’re changing, or working towards on trying to change, don’t only affect people who are incarcerated, but those who are returning back to society,” she added.

A bill discussed over the weekend was SB269. This is a bill focused on allowing prisoners who were sentenced to life but served 30 years are more, become eligible for parole. This heads before Senate Monday, April 30, at the capitol.

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