Just as he's set to leave office, the governor of Kentucky makes a bold move to help ex-convicts.

Politicians frequently do their best work when they no longer have to play politics.

The latest example? Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, whose term is up in January, signed an executive order restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their sentences.


The executive order doesn't apply to all convicted felons — according to Beshear, felons convicted of violent crimes, sex crimes, bribery, or treason will still not be allowed to vote — but thousands of Kentucky residents who have served their time for nonviolent offenses will finally have their full citizenship rights back.


And that's a good thing.

What? I don't get it. Who cares if criminals have the right to vote?

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.

Many convicted felons aren't unredeemable bad guys. Plenty were sent away for nonviolent offenses. Often, they're normal people who did something stupid once. Preventing them from voting is, essentially, a permanent punishment for offenses that can be as minor as selling marijuana or stealing a laptop.

Banning felons from the polls — though a race and class-neutral policy on its face — winds up disenfranchising a highly disproportionate number of poor and non-white voters.

And unlike 99.9% of all things, Beshear's order actually has bipartisan support. Though Beshear is a Democrat, Kentucky's incoming governor, Republican Matt Bevin, has said that he agrees with the idea in principle.

The best thing we can do for convicted criminals is integrate them back into society.

In theory, prison is supposed to help rehabilitate prisoners (that's where the "correctional" in "correctional facility" comes from). In reality, it's too often treated as punishment for punishment's sake.

For many former prisoners, losing their voting rights is just one component of the problem. Many struggle to find employment when they get out because many companies refuse to hire ex-convicts. As a result, many end up homeless or turn back to crime as a means of supporting themselves.

Politicians shouldn't have to wait until they're heading out of office to do what's right.

Especially when it comes to doing what's right for people who have already served their time.

Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

While it's easy to blame politicians for failing to step up to protect the rights of ex-convicts, it's hard not to understand why they don't. Being "soft on crime" is often a one-way ticket to losing elections. Tying all crime committed by ex-offenders to incumbents to reform sentencing is a time-honored tactic — that too frequently works.

It's on us to support politicians who want a humane, fair justice system that punishes appropriately with the goal of full rehabilitation and reintegration — and to understand that zero crime ever, unfortunately, not realistic. It's additionally on us not to reward those who prey on the fear of crime to keep former offenders indefinitely alienated from society.

Though some of their former actions may shock and offend, convicted felons are people too.

If they've done the time they were ordered to do, they deserve a second chance to be citizens.

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

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Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

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A 2015 survey conducted by the National Union of Students found that 60% of respondents turned to porn to fill in the gaps in sex education. While 40% of those people said they learned a little, 75% of respondents said they felt porn created unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. Some of the unrealistic expectations from porn can be dangerous. A study found that 88% of porn contained violence, and another study found that those who consumed porn were more likely to become sexually aggressive.

But now the thing that breaks those unrealistic expectations… might also be porn? Pornhub has launched a sex education section.

The adult website's first series is simply titled, "Pornhub Sex Ed" and contains 11 videos and is accessible through the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center. The section also contains articles, some showing real anatomy and examples in order to bust myths people may have picked up on other portions of the website.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

There are creative, romantic proposals, and then there's this one.

Lee Loechler recently proposed to his girlfriend, Sthuthi David, by taking her to a packed theater to see her favorite movie, Sleeping Beauty. Little did she know that Loechler had spent six months altering the animation of the film's most iconic scene, changing the characters to look like the couple themselves and altering the storyline to set up his Big Question. And that's only the beginning.

Watching David's face during the scene change is sheer delight, as her confused look proves that she has no clue what is about to happen. The set-up is great, but the magical moment when Loechler's illustrated self tosses the engagement ring to his real-life self? That's when we all toss up our hands and say, "OKAY, man. You win at proposing. Everyone else must bow before you now."

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While many of us have understandably let the challenges of 2020 get under our skin and bring us down, a young man from Florida was securing his place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full triathlon.

For the majority of people, a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride or a 26.2 mile run would be difficult on its own. The Ironman competition requires participants to complete them all in one grueling race. In a statement, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock called Chris "an inspiration to all of us." She continued, "We are incredibly proud of Chris and the work he has put in to achieve this monumental goal. He's become a hero to athletes, fans, and people across Florida and around the world."

Nikic's journey to become an Ironman started off as a challenge far less lofty. He and his father, Nik, created the "1 percent better challenge." The idea was to keep Chris motivated during the pandemic and beyond. According to The Washington Post, the idea was for Chris to improve his workouts by one percent each day because he "doesn't like pain" but loves "food, videos games and my couch." The plan was to keep building strength and stamina while keeping his eye on the grand prize of completing a triathlon. Nik told the Panama City News Herald, "I was concerned because after high school and after graduation a lot of kids with Down syndrome become isolated and just start living a life of isolation. I said, 'Look, let's go find him something to get him back into the world and get him involved,' so we started looking around and we were fortunate that at the same time Special Olympics Florida started this triathlon program, and I thought, 'What a great way to get him started, get him in shape and get him to make some friends.'"


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