JACKSON, Miss. – The SPLC Action Fund today released a new television advertisement to highlight the harms caused by Mississippi’s lifetime voting ban on individuals convicted of disqualifying offenses.
In the advertisement running on broadcast and cable, Mississippians will hear the story of Dennis Hopkins of Holly Springs. Dennis was found guilty of grand larceny more than twenty years ago. Today, he is the owner of a towing business in Holly Springs, a foster parent registered by the state of Mississippi, and the former chief of his local fire department. Mr. Hopkins is raising eight children with his wife.
“There are many Mississippians like Dennis who after completing their sentences are hoping to return to their communities to work, pay taxes and make a positive impact, but they find they cannot vote,” said Jody Owens, SPLC Action Fund Chief Policy Counsel. “After completing their sentences and paying their debts to society, Mississippians deserve a second chance to be full members of their communities, and we must change our state laws to allow people like Dennis the same opportunity we’d want for our loved ones.”
Mississippi is one of only three states that impose a lifetime voting ban on all individuals convicted of disqualifying offenses, with Florida last fall joining other states like Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Georgia in ending their voting bans. Mississippi enacted the lifetime ban in the new constitution it adopted after the Civil War to limit the black vote. In recent decades, black voting-age Mississippians have been banned at over twice the rate of white voting-age Mississippians. Nearly 50,000 Mississippians were banned for life from voting because of this state’s laws between 1994 and 2017.
Dennis Hopkins: “I lost my right to vote because I was convicted of a grand larceny charge over 20 years ago. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something I did. I can’t change it, all I can do is try to correct it. And how much longer are they going to make me pay for this? Did you sentence me to four years or did you sentence me to life?”
Narrator: “We must end Mississippi’s lifetime voting ban. Everyone deserves a second chance.”