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Errors and Delays for Clemency

September 24th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Eleven people are walking around Florida today with their civil rights because of a mistake. A total of 13 people were identified in an audit of the state parole commission as people who got their rights back when they should not have. Two are already in jail, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, thousands of others are waiting years to tell their story.

They come by the dozens, four times a year, seeking their right to vote or own a gun.

200,000 former felons have gotten their rights back automatically since 2007. Among them 13 who didnt qualify.

At least 3 of the 13 who got their rights back by mistake would never have qualified for automatic restoration. Thats because their crimes were violent.

The Parole Commission is awash in paper. In addition to those who got their rights when they shouldnt have, as many as 90 thousand people are currently waiting. The commission chairman admits mistakes were made, but:

Were addressing those,” Parole Commission Chairman Fred Dunphy said. “Were going to go back and review what weve done and have an update on the audit in about 8 months. And well see if we can improve.

Governor Charlie Crist wants to know more.

I think the whole board wants to review the facts, wants to have the chance to be briefed initially by staff,” Crist said.

CFO Alex Sink was ready to vote.

My opinion is we should rescind the granting of the automatic restoration, Sink said.

Two of the thirteen are back behind bars. The other eleven are where they were before they got their rights back, on the street.

The parole commission staff was cut 20 percent last year, at a time its workload was increasing. It completely ignored more than 3 hundred thousand former felons seeking their rights because they did their time out of state or in a federal prison.

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