Katrina Byrnes

IMG_1056Katrina Byrnes is a life-long resident of Louisville, a mother of four, and is very involved in her community through the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and other community organizations.

"When you tell people you’re a former felon, they treat you different sometimes,” Byrnes says.  “My felony is 13 ½ years old and it doesn’t make sense to punish people twice – or for the rest of their lives.”

“Lots of people in my community don’t have the right to vote,” Byrnes says.  “I worry that a lot of them don’t care and they’ve become apathetic.  I used to feel that way, to be honest.”  

“It impacts the children more than anything else.  They learn from us.  I fought to get my rights back for them – to show them that my vote counts and so will theirs.”

KatrinaCroppedKatrina Byrnes spoke out in 2008 at a rally for voting rights in Frankfort.  Although she was nervous, she received a standing ovation from the crowd.  

“I’m better talking to people one-to-one about this issue, though,” Byrnes says.  “I’d love to get more community involvement to really get people out into the streets talking to people about this in the West end of Louisville and other areas.”  

“I really get out there and help bring people to the probation and parole office to apply to get their rights back – and get them contacting their legislators to restore voting rights to all former felons.”

“It’s so sad that some people don’t care about this issue.  People need to open their eyes.  It just doesn’t make any sense to take voting rights away from people who have served their time."

Byrnes fought to get her own right to vote back and got it, voting for the very first time in 2008.  “I was just 19 when I was sentenced – it felt so empowering to vote for the first time in my life.”

“I want other people to feel that way too – everyone in my community and across the state.  All 186,000 Kentuckians who have lost their vote need to be able to vote again to make this right.”

Issue Area(s):