Everyone makes mistakes. For most of us, those mistakes do not rise to the level of being criminal. I can appreciate that there are people who are in really horrible situations where there are really no viable good choices. They messed up, get arrested, tried, and convicted. Once they have served their sentence and paid their debt to society, they are often in worse situations than the one that led to their previous poor decisions. My REST bill will provide a way to truly rehabilitate those who will be released from prison. This bill provides the tools for a convict to re-enter society with a much better chance at successful reintegration.
The convict does not stop being a citizen simply because he or she committed a crime. During incarceration, the convict's rights are limited as punishment for the crime committed. If he or she was given a sentence that results in the convict being released from prison, that convict is returned to his or her previous full citizenship status, with all the rights that he or she previously enjoyed. However, I do believe that some rights need to be restore immediately, while other rights need to take more time to restore after the ex-convict has proven that he or she can handle the responsibility that comes with those particular rights. For instance, the right to vote is a right that should be immediately restored upon successful completion on one's prison sentence. However, the right to own a gun would not be able to be restored until the ex-convict has prove he or she can handle the responsibility without abusing it (possibly 5 years or 10 years after the sentence in completed). Either way, due process needs to be provided for any right that is denied, since there may be extenuating circumstances where an exception may be warranted.