(WWLP) – The Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws held a hearing on two constitutional amendment proposals on Thursday evening.

They aim to restore the voting rights of individuals who were incarcerated due to a felony. For the first time in Massachusetts history current incarcerated individuals participated in a committee hearing.

The Democracy Behind Bars Coalition and the African American Coalition Committee were also in attendance.

Dozens of advocates for re-instating voting rights to incarcerated people testified before the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Supporters believe that taking away the right to vote serves no public benefit, and only worsens the negative consequences of incarceration especially for Black and Latino communities who are disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration.

Sen. Liz Miranda of Boston said work in the Commonwealth is far from over as people of color continue to be disenfranchised in state prisons. In 2000, an amendment was added to approve a statewide ballot question making it illegal for people serving a felony sentence to vote.

Thursday’s public hearing was open for comment but, the committee only heard from those who were in favor of the constitutional amendment.