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.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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