Tags: Florida | civil | rights

Florida Restores Rights to 115,000 Ex-Felons

Wednesday, 18 Jun 2008 01:03 PM

By Rick Pedraza

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

A new state rule in Florida calls for more than 115,000 former felons who complete their sentences to be given back their civil rights, including the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury, and obtain state and local licenses for certain types of work.

The rule by the state’s Board of Executive Clemency ends a policy that, until now, required a panel to act individually on every restoration of rights requests.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist – attending a two-day summit of state officials, lawmakers, community activists, prison ministers and others brainstorming ideas for keeping former inmates from returning to crime after they are freed – says the decision to restore civil rights to ex-felons is based on fairness and being a part of a democratic society.

"Once somebody has truly paid their debt to society, we should recognize it," explains Crist, a Republican who had initially pushed for a broader clemency program.

“We should welcome them back into society and give them that second chance,” he told a crowd of law enforcement officials and advocates for prisoners’ rights in Tallahassee. “Who doesn't deserve a second chance?"

At Crist's urging, the clemency board approved the rule change in April 2007, yet 80 percent of the state’s disenfranchised ex-offenders still remain off the rolls. State Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough says the agency will do what it can to find individuals through system records to tell them they now can have their rights restored quickly and easily.

Before the new rule took effect, Florida was among a handful of states that refused to automatically restore felons' rights after they completed their sentences.

According to the governor, the 115,000 former felons with restored rights account for more than half of all the state’s former felons. Under the old rule that required individual hearings and board action, only about 7,000 released felons had their rights restored annually.

The change doesn't include the right to have a gun, which still isn't restored automatically for people with felony convictions.

Crist says the state’s previous process for restoring rights was a vestige of a time better left in the past, and he doesn't want Florida to be among a minority of states still clinging to it.

"Justice delayed is justice denied," he says. "And people are waiting."

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Retype Email:
Zip Code:
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

CNN's Cuomo Slams Russia Today Journalist for Crash Coverage

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 12:07 PM

CNN's Chris Cuomo slammed a journalist of Russia Today, the Kremlin-funded television network, for attempting to distanc . . .

Senate Democrats Prep $2.7 Billion Bill for Immigration Crisis

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 11:09 AM

Senate Democrats are embarking on legislation for a $2.7 billion package that would address the illegal immigration cris . . .

New Rules Coming for Opting Out of Contraceptive Coverage

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 10:13 AM

On the heels of the Supreme Court's temporary order allowing faith-based universities and charities to opt out of provid . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved