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.