Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Backlog in civil rights restoration


This past March Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi returned Florida’s civil rights restoration process to an old antiquated system. An ex-offender has to wait between anywhere from between 5 and 7 years from the date of release before an application can be sent to the Clemency Board.  This means the right to vote and the right to own firearms is revoked when one has been convicted of a felony.  The recent change in the process for civil rights restoration coupled with budget cuts to the Parole Commission has led to a serious backlog of approximately 95,000 cases. This article from tampabay.com documents the journey of one ex-offender who had to wait thirteen years before regaining full citizenship status.

Due to recent public backlash, the Governor now seems amenable to revisiting the policy of a five year waiting period for nonviolent offenders to apply for civil rights restoration.  Florida’s new policy has been described as “one of the harshest in the nation” according to News Service Florida.  Now State Representatives are urging the Governor to reverse the policy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Governor Claims New Waiting Period in Civil Rights Restoration Will Help Felons


Governor Rick Scott claims that new clemency rules requiring waiting periods for convicted felons to restore their civil rights will actually help them become productive citizens who do not re-offend.  As this article from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel states clemency approval will help felons obtain state licenses, jobs, and security clearance. But can waiting longer to regain your civil rights really be a good thing? Not according to the Florida Parole Commission. A recent report by this agency found that in Florida a felon who has their civil rights restored is far less likely to re-offend than a felon whose rights were not restored. When analyzing 31,000 cases over a two year period only 11 percent of those who had their civil rights restored re-offended. See this article from Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau for more statistics and to see the potential effect this waiting period will have on those have been convicted of a felony and are trying to stay on the straight and narrow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hidden Political Agenda in Delaying Civil Rights Restoration?



            In 2007 Governor Charlie Christ issued an Executive Order simplifying the process of civil rights restoration for felons convicted of non-violent criminal offenses.  Certain convicted felons were allowed to have their civil rights restored automatically or without a hearing. Fast forward to March 2011, current Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi abolished Crist’s Executive Order and returned Florida’s civil rights restoration process to an old antiquated system. Under the “new” system, ex-offenders now have to wait between anywhere from between 5 and 7 years from the date of release before an application can be sent to the Clemency Board. The underlying purpose of the change, according to the Attorney General Bondi, is for ex-offenders to prove they have been rehabilitated. But as the article from the St. Petersburg Times suggests the purpose is not proof of rehabilitation at all, but rather to shrink the potential pool of Democratic voters.