‘Vote for Justice’ Short Film Presents Obstacles of Reentry

Uncategorized 04.25,22

Janessa Sambola-Harris, [email protected]

Film follows story of Reginald Belle, a campaigns and programs fellow at The Education Fund

WASHINGTON — The Leadership Conference Education Fund released a short film chronicling the first-time voter experience of Reginald Belle, a campaigns and programs fellow at The Education Fund, in support of Vote for Justice under the organization’s Vision for Justice platform. The Vote for Justice campaign was launched last month to educate voters about the connection between justice, voting, and other acts of civic participation.

Directed by Dave Clark, creative director of the justice program at The Education Fund, the short film follows Belle as he recounts his journey as a teenager inexplicably tangled up in the criminal-legal system that led to him being incarcerated for 26 years. While telling his story, Belle offers a powerful call to action to eligible voters. Belle urges them to exercise their right to vote, a right that is denied to millions due to laws that purposefully disenfranchise people involved in the criminal-legal system. Sharing the numerous obstacles and barriers he faced upon his release to garner employment and other opportunities, Belle’s account is troubling, but not unique. The United States leads the world in incarceration rates, with more than 6 million people living under some form of imprisonment or surveillance.

“The Vote for Justice campaign is more than an opportunity for me to share my personal experience of incarceration for 26 years. This film shines a light on the urgent need for transformative change in the criminal-legal system to focus more on rehabilitation and other alternatives to incarceration,” said Belle. “We want to call attention to how people like myself who are formerly incarcerated are treated as partial citizens, when your right to vote can be taken from you, depriving you of the right to representation and full civic participation, despite living in a country that professes this to be the right of all citizens.”

The full film is available on YouTube. Shorter versions can be watched on The Leadership Conference’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

To learn more about the Vote for Justice campaign and Vision for Justice platform, visit https://visionforjustice.org/vote-for-justice/.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal and state policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit www.civilrights.org/edfund/.