The article notes Gov. Charlie Crist "probably will tout progress on the rights-restoration front," but emphasizes that "300,000-plus older rights-restoration cases that were initially identified by DOC for review and are still under investigation or were determined to be ineligible for expedited processing by the Florida Parole Commission." As a result, "it is clear that much more needs to be done." Schlakman also writes:
... Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink asked me to develop a strategy. She subsequently distributed copies to Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. It calls for the Clemency Board to: (1) modify the long-standing clemency rule that requires ex-offenders to satisfy restitution obligations as a precondition for rights restoration and (2) break the linkage between rights restoration and eligibility for certain jobs and occupational licenses.
Approximately 40 percent of the ex-offenders who were deemed ineligible for expedited processing were disqualified due to outstanding restitution obligations. Ex-offenders should be required to pay all court-ordered victim restitution, but full payment should not be a pre-condition for rights restoration. Apart from clemency, state officials should re-evaluate relevant enforcement mechanisms to facilitate restitution payments to crime victims along the lines of action taken to address delinquent child-support payments.
Once employment eligibility issues are decoupled from the process, it wouldn't be necessary to distinguish violent from nonviolent offenses to determining one's fitness to vote. The multi-tiered review that was established by 2007 rule changes could be collapsed into one to simply verify that ex-offenders had completed their sentences.
The governor could issue an executive order to require state agencies that he supervises to conform employment eligibility criteria for ex-offenders to the language contained in legislation that passed the Senate this year but died in the House. That bill said ex-offenders could not be denied certain employment or occupational licenses based solely upon the status of their civil rights. Sink and Bronson could issue similar orders, and lawmakers could revisit these matters next
With another stroke of his pen, Crist, with support from at least two Cabinet members, also could enable many ex-offenders to regain their civil rights and register to vote. Only then will the rights-restoration process reflect the fundamental fairness that the governor has been talking about.
See article here.