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Rights Restoration a work in Progress

June 15th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Approximately Ten thousand convicted felons have applications pending to have their voting or firearm rights restored, but the process can take five years or more, and only about 2000 cases are disposed of each year. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, a pending constitutional amendment could streamline the process.

Four times a year, the Governor and Cabinet listen to pleas for mercy from convicted felons.

“Yes, I was convicted of manslaughter, and I did it” said one convicted felon.

Thursday, there were 85 cases on the agenda.

“I wish you the best of luck. I want to think about it. I’m gonna take it under advisement” Rick Scott after one case.

But prior to 2011, before Rick Scott and Pam Bondi took office, restoration of rights was near automatic for felons who’d paid their debt to society.

“I never harmed anybody.” Datravicious Smith told the Governor.

Datravicious Smith started the clemency process in 2012. he asked for and got his right to vote back.

“I don’t think just given to you back automatically. You never know” said Smith afterwards.

Jai Jurawan wasn’t so lucky.

“Tell me about the charge of cultivation of cannabis in 2013” Scott asked of him.

Jurawan came with hopes of a pardon.

 

“Not getting it…it sucks” he told us afterwards.

The Florida Supreme Court has cleared an amendment for the 2018 ballot that would automatically restore non violent felons rights.

Richard Greenberg is the President Elect of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

 

“They get released, get off off probation or get out of prison and they can’t vote. It makes no sense” says Greenberg.

If the amendment gets on the ballot and if it passes, it could automatically restore the rights of well over a million felons.

That’s a big if. Organizers still need to collect another seven hundred thousand signatures, and they’re trying to it will all volunteer labor.

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