tv America Tonight Al Jazeera January 5, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm EST
>> the united nations has never accepted responsibility for this. >> an ali velshi on target special: on america tonight >> when you take those rights, you convict them for the rest of your life left behind and fighting for the right to vote. have you ever voted before? >> i have never voted one woman's journey to reclaim her civil rights good evening. thanks for joining us. i'm adam may. joie chen has the night off. florida, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of people
who have completed their sentences. 10% of all people in florida. one quarter of the african-american denied the right to vote. our correspondent has the story of one woman left behind and her long journey to have her civil rights restored. >> with the state of florida and the government, when you get in trouble, they can take your rights. >> you can't be a part of society as we know it because you can't vote. >> reporter: it was a moment when the fate of the nation was hanging in the balance. florida following the 2000 presidential election. only a few hundred votes separated al gore and george w bush. a narrow margin affected by a simple reality.
in florida anyone with a felony conviction is stripped of the right to vote. that means that a million and a half people in the state are disenfranchised. nearly 10% of the population and almost a quarter of all african-americans >> when you take those rights, you're convicting them for the rest of their life. >> reporter: this woman is nearing the end of a long journey to try to win back her civil rights. it is only a three-hour drive to the state capital, but it has taken her 15 years to get to this point. back in 1997 she served six months in jail for assault folded by two and a half years of probation. but despite a clean record since then and a job caring for hospital patients, she is still barred from voting in florida. >> i have stayed out of trouble, besides a traffic ticket or suspended licence, but so far as being in trouble with the law, being arrested, no, i have not done that. i've been walking a clean slate.
>> reporter: it's pretty much a model citizen. >> right. >> reporter: that hasn't helped you get your voting rights restored. >> no. >> reporter: hampton has four sons ranging from 25 to 7. it is the youngest who she looks forward to bringing with her to the polling station >> is your son aware that you can't voted? >> yes. all my kids are aware that i can't vote. >> reporter: how do you explain that to them? >> i pretty much sat them down and said i made a mistake in my life. everybody makes mistakes and you learn from your mistakes. with the state of florida and the government, when you get in trouble, they can take your rights. >> reporter: have you ever voted before some snichlt i have never voted. >> reporter: never voted? >> no. >> reporter: so if you get your rights restored, this will be the first presidential election that you vote in? >> yes. >> reporter: how will you feel if your voting rates are restored? >> i would dance for praise.
>> reporter: on the morning of the hearing, it is only a few blocks to the capital building >> it is just like going to a regular court here. >> reporter: hampton doesn't like to talk about the physical confrontation that land eld her in jail. but there is no avoiding the past when facing governor rick scott and the rest of the state clemency board. most states do bar flens while in prison and on probation. the florida constitution goes further. it strips all former felons of the right to vote unless reversed by the clemency court. >> this is a court of mercy. if you woke up and say i deserve something, that's not how this works. we will be as fair and honest as we can, but my recommendation is don't woke up and say i deserve this because i've done something right. it is very difficult to sit in this position if there's no remorse shown. if there is no remorse shown, then it is very difficult to
grant this type of clemency. >> that sounds like a king would make not a governor that is elected by the people. >> reporter: he is a district senator. >> it is not his job to decide who receives mercy and who doesn't receive mercy. these are basic human rights that we have established in this country as being part of the fabric of who we are, the right to vote >> reporter: the previous governor did streamline the clemency procedure and allowed 150,000 non-violent former felons to gain their voting rights. from 20 # 1 under governor rick scott that has dropped to only about 1500. she is part of a select group and one of 42 granted a hearing in december. thousands more are like chris pool, caught in a seemingly endless cycle of waiting.
>> reporter: what has the process been like to get your voting rights reinstated? >> its a brick wall. >> reporter: how many times have you inquired about it? >> probably at least 10 to 12 times. same answer. they're working on it, mr mool. they're working on it. we will get in touch with you. never had a dui, anything like that. >> reporter: pool served four you'res on a federal drug charge but having completed his sentence in 1992, 23 years ago, he says he should be given his rights back >> yes. i broke the law and i accepted the responsibility for that, but i didn't think i was going to be for the rest of my life i have to serve the sentence for the rest of my life. like the old saying is, you do the crime you do the time. i did the time. i'm still doing the time. i've been inches cars rated
since-- incarcerated since 1987. >> reporter: that's what it feels like >> sure. you can't vote, you can't be a part of the society as we know it because you can't vote. >> reporter: for someone who committed a mistake in their youth 15/0 years ago should not-- 20 years ago should be not be denied in the state. it's nothing less than criminal that people can't exercise their constitutional right to vote. it is a simple fairness issue and it's an american issue. >> reporter: senator is proposing an amendment to the state constitution that will automatically restore voting rights to felons, except those involves sexual offences or homicides. it has failed to gain any tracks in the senate >> reporter: what would happen in the state politically if all of a sudden everybody with a conviction regained the right to vote? >> most former felons would tend to vote democratic. look, the statistics are there
that 90% of them will vote that way. i think he sees that and it is fearful to allow people because it would mean that we would actually elect democrats in the state of florida. >> reporter: we asked to speak with governor scott, attorney-general and two other members of the clemency board. but their representatives said the officials didn't have time to stop for our cameras. at the hearing many had powerful stories of struggle. >> after 31 years i can only hope you see my shame. >> reporter: youthful mistakes. >> in 1987. >> reporter: and bad choices. >> i caused damage which can never be undone. >> reporter: in the end only about half of the 42 applicants regained their right. the rest failed.
>> more time needs to pass. i deny. >> reporter: after several hours of testimony. >> number 31, nora hampton is here. >> reporter: it was her turn t a moment 15 years in the making. >> good morning. >> good morning. how are you? i have a paper to read. i learnt from my mistakes and from that day forward i turned my life around. i had opportunities to get my masht care assistant certification in 203 and i've been working as a patient assistant since. i go to work every day, save lives. i work in the cardiac. >> so you did this, right? is there any question that? >> yes, sir. i was wrong >> how old are your kids? >> i have a 25-year-old, a 24-year-old, a soon to be 22-year-old and i have a seven year old. i had to explain to them why i
can't vote and it's hard but hard on them too. i'm sorry. >> you've done a good job. oif move to grant. >> thank you. >> good luck. >> reporter: how are you doing? >> i'm good. i'm just jitry and, you know. the moment, you know >> reporter: you've been waiting for this for a while? >> yes. i have >> reporter: what's going through your head now? >> me taking my son and placing my vote. i'm going straight home and tell them that mom has the right to vote and, you know, i'm pretty sure they're going to be ready for this adventure. >> reporter: at the end of a long road for nor ahampton. >> thanks for walking with me.
>> reporter: it was a blessing to her to vote, not just simply a right here we are, we're heading right into an election. 2016 and we have seen so many times how florida is so pivotal to the outcome of the national elections. how could this have an impact? >> florida is without question the biggest swing state union. we saw what happened in 2000, that it came down to just a couple hundred votes. when you have 1.5 million people in the state who are not allowed to vote and that includes 25%, almost 25% of florida's entire african american population, which statistically votes democratic, it could easily swing as we saw in 2000, it does come down to a handful of votes.
bigger picture. florida is not alone in restricting voting rights. >> reporter: no. they're not. they're certainly some of the most severe. they account for 1.5 million of the people who can't vote out of 4.85 million. kentucky just in november, the outgoing democratic governor had said we're going to give 180,000 former non-violent felons the right to vote again. then they only had that for a couple of weeks before the new republican governor actually took that right away the governor who was just sworn into office now >> reporter: yes are any states taking action in the opposite direction here? >> reporter: not really. right now mayne and vermont are the only two who allow people who are currently in prison to vote, but everybody else, it's usually you can't vote while you're doing your time, but florida took that to the extreme. in a state like florida, it is actually going to have a major
impact on the presidential election will be interesting if someone does an analysis after the election to see if it did play a role. >> reporter: we will be there to do it thank you for that. up next shots fired and the shattered lives left behind. america tonight's sarah hoy considers the cost of a bullet, even when they don't kill. also a growing anger over property rights. are the rights of ranchers being violated by the government?
college kids and high schools. and from first graders in new town president obama very emotional as he made the call for a national sense of urgency of gun control as he recalled some of the mass shootings here. he unveiled some measures that he proposed in executive action. he also mentioned his home town of chicago and the toll that gun violence has taken on that city. what might be over looked in all of this are the gunshot survivors. what is the true cost of a gunshot? america tonight's sarah hoi looks for answers >> it was a july 27 2005. it was a hot day.
i got paid that day t was a great day. some guys were outside my building asking me questions about the job. we were talking the. the shots were heard. >> reporter: he was just 20 years old when a stranger shot him twice while on his way home from work. >> i was so bad, it was bad sound >> reporter: doctors confirmed his worst night mire. he was par aliced-- parcel eyesd and would never worked again. >> he was waited on hand and foot. >> reporter: when it comes to gun violence what gets attention are those who die. often over looked are those who live and the enormous costs that go with it. gunshot wounds are the third
leading cause of spinal cord injuries, primarily affecting young uninsured men with costs easily climbing into the millions. he was uninsured at the time of his shooting leave the hospital to pick up the initial atab. with the remainder needing to be covered by disability and medicaid benefits. what would you say was the total bill from start to now? >> looking at, like, almost like 10 million dollars. >> reporter: ten million dollars? >> seriously, because my first year i accumulated almost two million dollars worth of bills. >> reporter: dr james dordy is director of the trauma center where owens was taken. the majority of people who are shot live he says >> the numbers from chicago, rough lip one-fifth of the patients who are shot are homicides, but but there is a large population of individuals
who survive gunshot wounds. beyond the injuries, many patients have long-term health problems. >> reporter: by one estimate, annual firearm injuries end up costing 645 dollars per gun in america. he says it's not who you think that's paying the price. >> there is a certain belief out there that trauma victims deserve to be shot, they're in gangs. that's not true. the majority of our patients are not in gangs and the shooting did not necessarily revolve around any gang-related incident. the majority of our patients are innocent victims. >> reporter: in may this man was driving in chicago's north suburbs, far from the crime ridden streets of the inner city when he heard the window cracked >> it felt like someone had punched me in any left shoulder in the back, but i knew it wasn't just a punch because it
knocked me over and i slumped over the wheel. >> reporter: the 57-year-old father of two had been hit by a stray bullet. >> i'm not a gang banger, a thug. i'm a teacher, you know, and i'm thinking, why would someone want to shoot me? i guess i figured out it was just an act of random violence. >> reporter: that bullet would leave him without the use of hills arms or leg-- his arms or legs,ing his life forever >> reporter: he had thought math for many years. losing his place at the pull pit may prove to be his biggest cost at all. >> reporter: how hard has it been for you not to be able to minister? >> i get emotional when i talk about it because i - ministries is my life, you know, and to not be able to stand there and do
what god has called me to do, it's just i can't describe it because it is hard wrenching-- heart wrenching. >> reporter: it has been nearly a decade since he was shot. he lives with his sister in a modest house on the city south side that isn't wheelchair accessible, but he insists on doing most things himself. >> yeah. i see a lot of guys in this neighborhood that aren't in a wheelchair. >> reporter: he says the wheelchair doesn't define him >> we're not defined by this gun violence. none of us are. it will pass, it will change. we all have to go through it right now. we are experiencing it, but the sun shall sign again. it definitely will. >> reporter: the price for the bullet that cut him down is one heap is still paying. sarah hoi up next, the western divide.
ranchers, the federal government and a debate over property rights heelting up. -- heating up coming up at the top of the hour on al jazeera america growing concerns over how the diplomatic dispute between saudi arabia and iran will affect the region. an american soldier is killed and two other wounded by a taliban attack in afghanistan. the swearing in the new opposition controlled national assembly in venezuela sparks protests and counter protests. germany's plunging birth rates and ageing population. how refugees might help. all that is coming up in our next hour.
federal authorities and the eyes on the nation are on those armed protesters who have taken control of a property in oregon. while their tack technicals are not widely supported, they have backing in the region. there is growing anger over federal management of public lands in western states. i recently talked to two different ranchers who say they have a beef with the feds and their property rights are being violated >> i wouldn't say words would do it. i would say action would. that would be for the federal government to remove its kon constitutional presence here in the county to many outsiders the take
over by armed protesters of federally owned property in rural oregon may seem eccentric or obscure. >> we would like to see them returned to their ranchers, ranch begin and lich again as free people >> reporter: the group says they're upset over the arson conviction of two ranchers who started a fire on their private land which then spread to public land. they say the case is a symbol of government over reach and the continued violation of their citizens' rights >> >> reporter: how did you come to own this property? >> i worked my butt off. >> reporter: he owns a large cattle ranch in southern oregon. he is unaffiliated with the protesters, but reernl shared his distrust of the federal government when it comes to land management. an energy come is planning to use federal laws to run a natural gas pipeline through the middle of his property >> it was set up for a good
reason. it was for the betterment of everybody. it was for public need and necessity. >> it is a bunch of foreign investors to make a tonne of money and it is not going to bring anything to the american people. >> reporter: this backs up to public land managed by the federal bureau of land m or pl m. >> it is going to go down this road right over here, down this ij. >> reporter: ornlly in the 1800s, an earlier version of the bl m over saw land that no-one wanted. while westward expansion changed that, the federal government has retained control of hundreds of thousands of acres. in all, about one-eighth of the u.s. land mass. ranchers like this man, a card carrying republican, feel like no-one is listening to
modern-day concerns >> my party is speaking out of both sides of their mouth. all they talk about is private property rights less government, and the democrats are just as bad ard worse. >> we're on the interstate 80 corridor, so we have the interstate, we have multiple phone lines, pipelines, oil and gas and power lines. what has been difficult has - they sat down with bl m and drew a line across our ranch. >> reporter: this man runs a 250,000 ranch in wyoming. it is a combination of public land he leases from the government and private land he ownss. it looks a lot like this >> we're inside the checker board system. i deal with the land that was developed in the 1860s, so we have intermingled and private
and bl m lands joochlt sounds confusing? it is one reason why the state of wyo mishgs ng recently enacted a strict no trespassing law. supporters say it will help protect ranchers, but critics say the law will keep people from accessing public lands. lands that taxpayers support but people like hanson manage. why is that private property right so important to you? >> it just cuts right to the heart of everything. if you can't protect your private property, what do you have? do we have anything in this country? my family, i'm the first generation born in this country. i'm an immigrant family. they immigrated over here from denmark because they had nothing. they couldn't feed the family. if you don't have private property, what do you have?
it's a fundamental base of the whole nation. >> reporter: the debate exposes a rift between landowners and those who have used the public land for generations. caught between the challenges of modern day expansion and the traditional ways of the west. >> if you look at what has happened in the past, the chances are that you're going to lose in battle. >> no question about it. no question about it. >> reporter: so why keep fighting it? >> because i want to live on my knees or die on my feet. you can't bend over every time someone pushes on you. you just need to push back. some voices from the west. that's america tonight. tell us what you think at al jazeera.com/america tonight. you can tunaing to us on twitter or our facebook page. we will have more of america tonight tom.