SHARPTON’S BROTHER STIRS CONTROVERSY 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.
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
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-