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In a Break From the Past, Florida Will Let Felons Vote – New York Times

April 8, 2007


MIAMI, April 5 — Gov. Charlie Crist persuaded Florida’s clemency board Thursday to let most felons easily regain their voting rights after prison, saying it was time to leave the “offensive minority” of states that uniformly deny ex-offenders such rights.

Until now in Florida, most felons who finished prison and probation time had to submit to a lengthy review and waiting period, and sometimes an investigation and hearing, if they wanted to regain the right to vote.

Under the new rules, the roughly 80 percent of ex-offenders whose crimes were not considered violent will win automatic rights restoration after the state makes sure they have paid any restitution to victims and have no pending criminal charges.

Convicted murderers, sexual predators and “violent career criminals” will still need an investigation of their case and a hearing before the clemency board. Most will probably not regain the right to vote, serve on a jury or get jobs that require state licenses, like as a barber or nurse.

“This is Holy Week, a week that is all about forgiveness,” Mr. Crist said before the vote at a special meeting of the clemency board in Tallahassee. “Restoring civil rights is the right thing to do.”

Of the four clemency board members, only Attorney General Bill McCollum opposed the change, saying the board should carefully investigate and deliberate before restoring any convicted criminal’s rights. Agriculture Secretary Charles Bronson, a Republican, and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, voted for the rule change.

Mr. Crist, who sat on the clemency board as the attorney general under Gov. Jeb Bush, said he had only recently come to believe that most felons deserved swift restoration of their rights.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time,” he said, “but it came to fruition last year. You’d always like more, but this is historic, what happened today in Florida.”

Source: In a Break From the Past, Florida Will Let Felons Vote – New York Times

It took thought, design and effort leave civil society and become a felon.  It  takes thought, design and effort to return to full citizen status. 

Why does the ACLU want automatic restoration?  The ACLU damages the very society it proposes to serve by exercising such a desire. 

Full restoration of citizenship rights must be regained through heartfelt desire and effort.  Without such effort  then the ex-felon should remain without the rights they scorned and abused. 

Repaying a debt does not restore one to a fully functional relationship.  Trust must be regained through consistent, civil effort.   What do you think?

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