LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California announced today the launching of a media campaign to inform ex-offenders of their voting rights and encourage civic participation among persons who have served their sentences and parole after being convicted of a felony.

"Far too many ex-offenders are not aware that they have a right to regain their voting privilege once they have served their time," said Ramona Ripston, executive director for the ACLU of Southern California. "This campaign will both inform people of their rights and encourage them to take full advantage of being re-integrated into civic society."

The ACLU/SC will run two different radio spots urging ex-offenders to register or re-register to vote.

The English-language radio ad features popular television personality Judge Greg Mathis of the nationally syndicated "Judge Mathis Show" and will air on KKFR 92.3 FM and KJLH 102.3 FM. Judge Mathis, who went from teenage gang member to becoming the youngest judge in Michigan history, encourages others to register to vote prior to the October 18 deadline.

The Spanish language ad features bilingual underground rapper Azteka and will run on KSCA 101.9 FM. The East Los Angeles native draws on his years spent in the California Youth Authority (CYA) before he turned his life around through music. He urges listeners to register to vote as various propositions on the November ballot will have a direct impact on the Latino community.

The ads will run through the week of October 15. The deadline to register to vote is October 18.

The California parolee population numbers approximately 112,000. In 2003, California discharged approximately 42,204 people from the parole system. The California Department of Corrections reports that 22,400 people have been discharged from parole through June of this year, and they estimate a total of 44,800 will be discharged by the end of 2004.

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