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April 3, 2007

Will Florida forge a new path on felon disenfranchisement?

As reported in this New York Times article, Florida's new Governor is seeking to move the state in a dramatic new direction on the issue of felon disenfranchisement.  Here are details:

Hinting that a remarkable turnaround in state policy was near, Gov. Charlie Crist said Monday that he hoped to persuade members of the Florida cabinet this week to end the practice of stripping convicted felons of their right to vote.   Florida is the most populous of three states whose constitutions require withdrawal of voting rights from all convicted felons, and it has the nation's largest number of disenfranchised former offenders. The other two states are Kentucky and Virginia. 

Felons in Florida who have served their prison and probation time can apply to have their voting rights reinstated, but the process can be time consuming and complex. Only a few hundred have their rights restored each year in Florida, where the American Civil Liberties Union says 950,000 remain disenfranchised. 

Mr. Crist, a Republican, said that to win the support of some cabinet members, he might require former felons to pay whatever restitution they owe to victims before regaining their rights. Some civil rights groups, including the A.C.L.U., oppose such a compromise, but Mr. Crist said he had little choice.  "I want to do the doable," he told reporters in Tallahassee.  "I'm pushing as hard as I can to get as much as I can, but there’s a point beyond which I cannot go."

Only a constitutional amendment could formally end the ban, but under state law, the governor and cabinet — who also make up the state clemency board — could grant blanket clemency to everyone who completes their sentence. Mr. Crist needs two of the three cabinet members to sign off on the plan....

"I believe in my heart that everybody deserves a second chance," Mr. Crist said.  "And I'm hopeful that maybe later this week we'll have an opportunity to restore civil rights for Floridians and give them that right to vote."

If Governor Crist can blaze a new path on this issue in Florida, I may be a little less grumpy that his state's flagship university keeps beating my state's flagship university on the playing fields.

April 3, 2007 at 09:30 AM | Permalink


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I think that this is a wonderful Idea because this state is full of smart, bright citizens. By this law contiuning to be in play it will always a connection with Americas ugly past. This law was created to prevent blacks from voting after the civil war.

Posted by: | Apr 5, 2007 6:11:35 PM

I think that this is a wonderful Idea because this state is full of smart, bright citizens. By this law contiuning to be in play it will always a connection with Americas ugly past. This law was created to prevent blacks from voting after the civil war.

Posted by: | Apr 5, 2007 6:11:37 PM

I am a convicted felon, 14 years ago for marajuana , since then I cannot vote ,volunteer, I cannot go to my childs school in the classroom if I did, I need not talk to other children, field trips-same If I saw a child in danger I should just stand there and do nothing, The children love me I cry alot over it,I did my probation 2 years paid every thing Im 45 years old my child is 10 and being punished for something I did many years ago what do I do now I volunteer for the school on my own with 1 person knowing and a whole lot of quiet and hush
hush out of fear, I have done this for 2 years now its wrong what makes this thing so funny I love children and they love me we atract and at least I can say that makes me happy and no one can take that away from me thanks for letting me vent.

Posted by: | Apr 7, 2007 10:21:08 AM

It's about time!! Everybody deserves a second chance. If your "crime" was a "Non-Violent" offense,and you have served your time fot it. Why not get a chance for a fresh start. Why continue to punish someone. Everybody makes mistakes. EVERYBODY! So lets lighten up. Lets stop being so tough on "our" on citezens. We are all AMERICANS!

We all have families and everybody knows someone who has had this misfortune happen to them. And 9 out of 10, are a real "good" person that made a bad decision. They deserve a second chance. Think "REAL HARD" about yourself. Wouldn't you want a second chance.

In the 1950's If you were aressted for a felony, The judge would give you a choice of "Prison" or the "Armed Services"! As History has shown us that, some of our nations biggest "HEROS" had this choice. Let's help rather than continue to punish our own society! Are we ruthless people? NO. So why do some of us get satisfaction when someone "WE really don't know" has to go through the "meat grinder" of the system, only to get spit out the other end a broken man or women. "No rights" on top of it only to add insult to injury. No job, No licenses, No credibility! Please, Let's stop this!!

Look at "trading places" Dan Akaroyd's character. His life was turned upside down. He was set up. But this is what happens when you are "labled" as a convicted Felon. Your life is in turmoil. We will only create a bigger problem if we continue to take these rights away from our citizens.

I would also stongly suggest to change the "felony" Label, to only Very serious "Violent Offenders" All "NON-Violent" offeders that are currently labled as Felons, could very easly "RE - Desgnated to a "Mistimeanor"

This is a very "DO-ABLE" plan and it will open up the job opportunities to people with professionals with licenses. Doctors, Lawyers, Pilots, Stock Brokers, Insurance agents, ect. Also people that always wanted to better themself by becoming one of these professions.

I applaud Gov. Crist!! God bless you. You are a true leader, and someone who see a "POSITIVE" in a NEGATIVE situation!! Keep up the good work and let's hope other states catch on to your main stream thinking.

In light of a "Second Chance",

John, NYC.

Posted by: John | Apr 9, 2007 11:32:03 AM

Does Florida have a First Offender Law/Bill/Act that applies to adult non violent felonies -- not sexual predators or juveniles or dui. Where can I find it? Can u direct me to the exact statute?

Posted by: tony | Apr 27, 2007 11:55:40 PM

I am a 34 year-old man living in Palm coast florida and I am a non-violent felon fo cscs in new york state in 1998 and I cant get a full -time job because of my background check . I havnt been in any kind of trouble since then and I been trying to get a job in the nursing facilities as a cook and its just not working for me I DONT WANT TO GO BACK TO JAIL FOR DOING NOTHING STUPID,BUT IT SEEMS LIKE THAT IS WHAT IT IS SETTING ME UP TO DO CAN SOMEONE HELP ME

Posted by: WILLIAM THIGPEN | Nov 6, 2007 12:08:34 PM

When applying for a job in Florida, are you DISCRIMINATED against when you honestly state that you are a non-violent convicted felon, did your time and paid all restitution? Isn't it against the law to reject a person because of their status if they are well qualified? I am interested in helping such a person get a good job for which he is adequately qualified for and constantly rejected because of his status. It would be ashame to see such a qualified person flipping burgers because that's the only place that will hire him.

Posted by: Mary | Jul 12, 2008 10:55:28 PM

I had three dui's in ten years I agree what i did was wrong, but none of these were violent crimes yet i am labeled from getting any corporate job because i am labeled with a felony and all i've ever done is get up and go to work since i was 13 and now i can get a job in security systems because of the felony. I am a very nice guy. but i might be homeless soon. because i can't earn a living!!!!!!!!! p.s. need to do something in florida because they will throw you in jail for absolutely nothing its rediculas.

Posted by: scott | Sep 4, 2008 12:26:27 PM

This is by measure just another term for the scarlet letter. Yet, it is a process that serves the system so well.

The system is made up of people that make a living on the misery and disenfranchisement of it's people, not only it's "felons".

If you are one that still believes we live in a democracy you are so wrong. We live in a world of deceit and lies that are perpetuated by our blindness.

It comes down to money yet again. with no prisoners why would we need correctional system... It is a revolving door because it was set up that way, without "disenfranchisement" why would crime, true crime exist? Little is said that the root problem is not so much the system itself but that people believe what happened yesterday more than they see right now today. People have been trained not to except change and that people cannot change but just are the same always.

It is said that no man can change by himself but by the power of god.. Yet what if "God" did change this man/woman and yet is still rejected by "Gods" supposed followers? What then becomes of this changed man but to revert to what he was before or worse to survive.

What then is the benefit of a man to change if Forgiveness does not exist.

Politicians secure there place by bamboozling people into believing that they need new laws for protection rather than telling the people HEY WAKE UP, if we make these laws it does not change a thing rather Gives us more power to do as we wish in your life. The more power you give us the less free you are.

And the less free you are makes us GOV your god.


Posted by: John | Oct 14, 2008 5:03:41 PM

I am a current convicted non violent felon. What I dont understand is isn't taxation without representation what started the revolution in the first place. But yet this happens in these states like florida at every election. Because I as with all felons pay the same taxes as all those who are not felons, so how is it that if I am not a citizen of this country they (state and federal government) tax me without me haveing some kind of say so in the election process. The leaders of this country need to do exactly that....lead.

Posted by: Michael | Nov 4, 2008 9:44:01 PM

GPS tracking systems are only a small part of what it takes to keep our children safe from sexual predators. First of all, legislators need to ensure that these sex offenders cannot reside anywhere near children. Police need to spend less time hiding with their radar guns to give speeding tickets and more time monitoring areas where sex offenders reside. GPS tracking bracelets are a must! The people monitoring GPS trackers most be competent and knowledgeable.

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