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SHARPTON’S BROTHER STIRS CONTROVERSY IN ALABAMA

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The Reverend Kenneth Glasgow has spent years helping people with criminal records to regain the right to vote in Alabama

Pastor Kenneth (Sharpton) Glasgow is registering Alabama inmates to vote.

The Alabama Republican Party recently began an aggressive effort to counter a voter registration drive launched in Alabama prisons by the brother of civil rights activist, Reverend Al Sharpton.

Despite the campaign against him, Pastor Kenneth (Sharpton) Glasgow has told local media, “We’re just doing what the Bible says, visiting people in prison and ministering to them.”

 

In a telephone interview this week, Glascow told The People’s Voice that Alabama’s population is 26% African American, yet Blacks constitute 67% of the priosn population.

He added, “Tjhere are 250,000 disenfranchised and 30% are drug offenders … Who are eligible ot vote in and out of prison.”

But GOP chairman and State Representative Mike Hubbard told prison officials that he is concerned that Glasgow’s efforts could lead to voter fraud.

Hubbard’s letter led to Glasgow’s campaign being temporarily blocked.

On September 30, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Glasgow to allow him to resume registering eligible voters currently incarcerated in Alabama’s correctional facilities.

With just 24 days remaining before voter registration closes to citizens seeking to participate in the November 4 elections, the lawsuit challenges the decision of Richard Allen, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, to rescind Reverend Glasgow’s access to incarcerated individuals who are eligible to vote under Alabama law.

“With less than a month before the close of voter registration in Alabama, the Commissioner is effectively denied the franchise to eligible voters.

“This is an egregious attempt to hamper the democratic process in the State of Alabama,” said John Payton, LDF President and Director-Counsel.

Commissioner Allen initially provided enthusiastic support for Reverend Glasgow’s ministry of hope, reconciliation and redemption to Alabama’s inmates through activities that include voting, and es

tablished specific procedures by which non-partisan voter registration activities could be conducted safely and effectively. He not only directed the wardens of all Alabama correctional institutions to facilitate Reverend Glasgow’s entry, but provided a list to Reverend Glasgow of more than 6,000 inmates convicted only of simple drug possession crimes, offenses for which one does not lose his or her voting rights under Alabama’s constitution and laws. Most on the list are unaware of their eligibility to register to vote.    
However, as soon as news spread about the success of Reverend Glasgow’s ministry and his assistance helping eligible inmates register to vote, Commissioner Allen reversed course. While many applauded Reverend Glasgow’s attempt to minister to inmates and assist their rehabilitation through political participation, the Chair of the Alabama Republican Party wrote a letter to the Commissioner stating that it “was in full support of increasing the amount of registered voters in the state,” but not those “who have committed crimes and are currently incarcerated in the penal system,” even though some are eligible to register. 

 

The Commissioner then swiftly prohibited Reverend Glasgow from continuing to conduct his non-partisan voter registration activities for incarcerated, but eligible, Alabamians. This course of action is a textbook case of viewpoint discrimination – excluding a speaker from a forum because of disagreement with his opinion or ideology – that violates the First Amendment.

“Unlike the Commissioner,” Rev. Glasgow responded, “my actions are not influenced by a political party’s agenda. My prison ministry is focused not on politics, but on restoring people’s lives. Since I have personally benefited from this type of ministry, it is my calling to help inmates with their re-entry back into society and their families.”

 While incarcerated more than six years ago, Reverend Glasgow became involved in a prison ministry that addressed the importance of spirituality, personal responsibility, civic responsibility, forgiveness and restoration — both as personal virtues and as cornerstones for one’s community. Reverend Glasgow was particularly struck by the prison ministry’s focus on exercising the right to vote as a means to restore an offender to his community and vowed to give back by starting his own ministry. Upon his release in 2002, Rev. Glasgow remained true to his word and founded The Ordinary People Society, a faith-based ministry headquartered in Dothan, Alabama. In 2004, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole restored Rev. Glasgow’s voting rights.

“Reverend Glasgow’s ministry has carefully observed Alabama’s voting laws and every procedure established by the Commissioner to offer non-partisan assistance to eligible voters in Alabama’s penal system, most of whom do not know they have retained their voting rights,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Co-

Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group. “The Commissioner’s decision to cancel this important effort is arbitrary and unconstitutional. The time to remedy these constitutional violations is now.” However, Glasgow appears to be operating within the law. Alabama statute only allows the taking away of voting rights from inmates who have been convicted to crimes of “moral turpitude” and most inmates including those convicted of drug offenses, do not fall into that category.
Glasgow is looking for national support for the efforts of his group, “The Oridnary Peoples Society.”  He has a website at http://www.wearetops.blogspot.COm and can be reached at 334-671-2882.

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