Felon recalls 2008 return to the election booth

When Katrina M. Frierson was told she could no longer vote she said her “self-esteem was shot back to the ground.”

Frierson was convicted of 17 felonies relating to drug and weapons charges in the 1980s and 90s. She spent eight years in jail and another seven on probation.

She has since turned her life around and now runs a halfway home for women fighting substance abuse.

In Tennessee, a single felony conviction means losing one’s right to vote. To regain it, felons have to complete the full term of their sentence and fill out a Certificate of Restoration of Voting Rights.

Frierson said she rushed to complete this process before the 2008 presidential election.

“Before my convictions, voting was a really essential part of my life,” she said. “I actually worked on the voting election committee, meaning that I was the one that was sitting out at the polls at 5:30 in the morning.”

Frierson said casting her ballot in 2008 was a highlight for the year.

“When I received my voting rights, it made me a better human being, a better member of society. It felt like a marriage. It felt like a birthday, a graduation,” she said. “But most of all, it was a good challenge for me to be a better member of society.”

By Carl Straumsheim, News21