Sunday, October 2, 2011

Activist Profile: Vernon Bolds of VOTE-NOLA

This profile is republished from our friends at VOTE-NOLA:
Like many others, Vernon Bolds was introduced to VOTE by an existing member. “Post Katrina I was trying to work on my case, and someone gave me Norris’ address,” Bolds said. “Norris told me about VOTE and I was immediately interested.”

Bolds appreciates both VOTE’s practical contribution to alleviating the hardships of Formerly Incarcerated Persons (FIPS) as well as its overall framework of positivity and civic engagement. Due to the negative societal perception of FIPS when they are released from prison and must rejoin the workforce, Vernon thinks that VOTE’s CEED campaign (Campaign to End Employment Discrimination) should be the organization’s focal point. “The FIPS that do get jobs, their employers fall in love with them because they appreciate the job,” Bolds said.

Though access to gainful employment is a key issue that draws Vernon to participate in VOTE, the overall mission of the organization is what inspires him the most. “Their aim is to wake up a sleeping giant so we can make a positive difference in society,” Bolds said, referring to the power of the formerly incarcerated vote. The civic education that VOTE provides gives Bolds motivation to engage in other social issues outside of the organization. He is especially interested in youth empowerment. “I’d like to be a big brother,” Bolds said, “It’s everyone’s responsibility to save at least one youngster.”

The civic lessons and resources that Bold has accessed through VOTE have opened his eyes to the structural problems of the criminal justice system. “VOTE takes you behind the scenes. You see the subterranean criminal justice system.” Bolds believes that the resources that VOTE provides to FIPs should be widely distributed in the community, through the VOTE website, in order to inform members and non-members alike about their legal options and their civic responsibilities. “I’d like to set up a FAQ on the website as it pertains to the law,” Bolds explained.

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