Dear Members of the Constitution and Elections Committee,
I am writing today to ask for your vote AGAINST HB436. While I do not oppose most of the bill, (I agree with murderers, rapists, child molesters, armed robbers and others convicted of violent crimes losing their right to vote) I have some very real problems with some of the other things that have been included.
Felony possession of marijuana SHOULD NOT be included in this bill. Felony possession in Alabama means you got caught twice with as little as one joint or a seed or a stem. Marijuana smokers who have never harmed anyone should not lose their right to vote. No one who has never denied another person their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be denied their right to vote. Including felony marijuana possession in this bill will more negatively impact young people (think college students) and minorities. We already have over 250,000 in Alabama who have been disenfranchised. Isn't that enough? The inclusion of felony marijuana possession would also impact those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes like cancer patients, AIDS patients, MS patients, and your granny who secretly uses it for arthritis. Sale of marijuana also should not be included in this bill. Where would medical patients get it if there was no one to sell it to them?
Shoplifting is another thing that should not be included in this bill. Let me tell you a story. My father abandoned my mother and four children (including me) back in the late 70's. He left us with no food and no money. During the time it took my mother to apply for public assistance and the time she actually received it we four kids got really hungry. We were new to the town we lived in and didn't know anyone and we were pretty far away from the rest of our family. So, my mom, who is a wonderful Christian woman who always obeys the laws of the land shoplifted a large pack of hamburger meat in order to feed us. Yes, I am aware that was a crime. But, in the same situation what would you have done to feed your kids? When she got the money she went back to the store, told the manager what she had done and paid for the meat she took. No harm no foul. Did she deserve to lose her right to vote because of that? With the economy tanking these kinds of 'crimes' will be on the rise. I understand there is a difference between shoplifting because you want something (like some cool shoes or a CD) and shoplifting because your kids are hungry. But shoplifting should not constitute losing your right to vote. Shoplifting has not denied anyone their right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. It's a petty crime that deserves restitution and possibly probation for the offender not the loss of the right to participate in the political process. That is going way too far.
Please either vote against this bill in its entirety or vote to put it in subcommittee so that these unnecessary things can be removed.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Here are the email addresses of the committee members.
Representative Joseph Mitchell