Attorney General Eric Holder is urging states to restore voting rights to former prison inmates.
Holder says 11 states continue to restrict voting rights after a person has served a prison sentence and is no longer on probation or parole.
He says nearly one in 13 African-American adults is banned from voting because of these laws.
Holder’s remarks, delivered at a symposium on the nation’s criminal justice system, are part of his initiative seeking fundamental changes to the system.
Last August, Holder instructed federal prosecutors to stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences. He said long mandatory terms have flooded the nation’s prisons with low-level drug offenders and diverted money away for crime fighting. Holder is working with Congress to address the problem.