On Nov. 30, the Indian Legal Clinic (ILC) partnered with the Hopi Tribe and hosted a Rights Restoration Workshop to offer free legal assistance with restoring civil rights after a felony conviction. Student attorneys Maryam Salazar (3L), Clayton Kinsey (3L) and Natalia Sells (3L) traveled with Director Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Democracy Director Joel Edman to Kykotsmovi Village, Arizona on the Hopi Reservation to meet with the Hopi Chairman, Timothy Nuvangyaoma, and other tribal members to present information on rights restoration. During the workshop, the student attorneys presented information on the rights restoration process for single and multiple felonies, marijuana expungement and the set aside process.
“It was an enriching experience to go out to the Hopi reservation and have their tribal leaders really engage with the information we were sharing, including how they could implement it into their tribal community programs,” said Natalia.
In Arizona, if a person is convicted of a felony, they automatically lose certain civil rights. These include: the right to vote, to hold public office, to serve on a jury and to possess a firearm.
Native populations are disproportionately impacted by these punitive laws due to being overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Arizona has more restrictive felony disfranchisement laws than 40 other states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU) of Arizona. The Sentencing Project reported Arizona disenfranchised over 5% of the voting population in 2022, almost half of those disenfranchised had completely served their sentence.
The ILC remains dedicated to supporting citizens’ equal opportunity to vote.
“It’s insane to see how much rights restoration workshops are needed in the community and how many people would benefit from having their rights restored who may or may not know they need it,” said Natalia.
“This experience was great because it allowed us to apply what we learned in the classroom setting to the real world, especially in tribal communities. Working with real clients shows the impact our legal education can have in our own communities.”
We look forward to future community partnership events and appreciate the Hopi Tribe for hosting the Rights Restoration Workshop.
Honore Callingham (’18)
Law Fellow, Indian Legal Clinic, ASU Law