- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama’s governor said he has always believed convicted felons should have their voting rights restored after they have served their full sentences, a response to a call Tuesday from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for Alabama and 10 other states to do a better job at it.

“Although well over a century has passed since post-Reconstruction states used these measures to strip African-Americans of their most fundamental rights, the impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable,” Holder said in Washington.

Bentley said, “I believe if you have served your sentences and you have done what the state has asked you to do and you are a productive citizen again, I believe the people should have their rights.”

Alabama law requires most people convicted of felonies to forfeit their voting rights. Some felons, such as those convicted of drug possession, don’t lose their voting rights.

Once most ex-felons complete their sentences and probation and pay their fines and restitution, they can apply to the state parole board for the restoration of their rights. Some crimes, including murder and rape, are excluded from the restoration of voting rights.

Bentley said he’s open to changing the law. “I’m certainly willing to look at any reasonable request for that,” he told reporters while attending a transportation conference in Montgomery.

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