Our Second Sunday collection in June will benefit Voice of the Experienced.  VOTE began in 1987 as an effort of the Angola Special Civics Project, a group of prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Their initial focus was on jail-based voter registration. They were surprised to learn that detainees not on probation, parole, or serving time on a felony conviction were legally allowed to vote.  The group began to lobby their legislators and encourage their family and friends to vote. In 2003, several members of the project were released and established Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE) as a 501(c)(3) organization, focusing on voter registration for pre-trial detainees and those convicted of misdemeanors in the state of Louisiana.  VOTE has since expanded its work to include education for Formerly Incarcerated Persons (FIPs) about their rights.  In order to seize on the groundswell of energy around civic engagement, in 2008, VOTE hired full-time staff and created an ambitious but well-planned agenda to effect greater change.  Currently, their language for discussing this important work and the impacted community has shifted to be more inclusive. They now refer to themselves as Voice of the Experienced.

In the most incarcerated state in the nation with the highest rate of recidivism, during the second wave of civil rights and Black Lives Matter movements, they face incredible injustices and yet overcome staggering obstacles.  Their reach now extends well beyond New Orleans and Louisiana, to a vast network of individuals and organizations highlighting, addressing, and fighting for criminal justice reform and an end to mass incarceration in America. 

More information at:  www.vote-nola.org