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Florida Ordered to Change Clemency Process by April 26th

March 28th, 2018 by Jake Stofan
A Federal judge has given the state until April 26th to come up with a new plan for restoring voting rights to felons who have paid their debt to society.
The current system has resulted in a 10-year delay and a backlog of more than 10,000 cases.
When a person is convicted of a felony in the state of Florida they lose their civil rights, including the right to vote. 
The decision on whether they can get those rights back is up to the state’s board of executive clemency, made up of the Governor and the Cabinet. 
Governor Charlie Christ made the process easier during his administration by allowing non violent felons to automatically have their rights restored.
“They deserve a second chance,” Christ told reporters in 2007.
Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi led the effort to end the automatic restoration of a felons civil rights during their first clemency meeting after taking office in 2011.
“I believe you should have to ask and there should be an appropriate waiting period,” said Bondi in 2011.
Now, a Federal judge has told the State  the system leaves too much room for emotion in deciding if a person has their right to vote restored.
“The policies are far more restrictive than they’ve ever been,” said Human Rights Attorney Mark Schlakman.
While the judge ruled a felon should be able to get a decision within a four year election cycle, a constitutional amendment on the November ballot would automatically restore the right to vote after felons have served their time, paid their fines and finished probation.
Because of the looming amendment and lack of guidance in the judge’s ruling, Schlakman doubts any change to the process by the current administration will be significant.
“And it’s unclear whether the Governor and Cabinet will appeal,” said Schlakman.
The Governor’s Office is reviewing the ruling, saying Florida’s clemency process has been left to elected officials for more than a century.
If the Governor and Cabinet choose to appeal the ruling they could ask for a stay on the injunction to keep the current process In place while the issue works its way through the courts and goes before voters.

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