Thursday, February 5, 2015

Florida: Life Sentence

The Florida Courier has an interesting piece entitled, "Life Sentence." It being with some rather startling statistics:
More than 1.6 million Floridians - about 9 percent - cannot vote, hold office or serve on a jury, according to The Sentencing Project, a prison reform group. In most states, it’s less than two percent. Only two other states have that tough a policy. Twenty-five percent of Florida’s Black population - that’s 1 in 4 - can’t vote, even though just 17 percent of the state’s population is Black. 
In sharp contrast, in Vermont and Maine, "the currently incarcerated can vote by absentee ballot."

The piece then explains why getting such rights back, in Florida, "has become far tougher in the past four years." Governor Scott's administration has restored the rights of 1,534 nonviolent felons, but more than 11,000 have applied and are waiting. Unfortunately, the clemency board only meets four times a year and the application process requires "a five-year wait for less-serious felonies and seven years for others, along with an application form and, for each felony count, certified copies of the charging document, judgment and sentencing from the clerk of the county where the felony occurred."

Under former Gov. Crist, the Board "automatically restored the rights of nonviolent offenders who served their time." The result was 155,315 were restored in four-years Under Gov. Bush, "sentencing forms were not required of people trying to get their rights back, and there was no wait period for the less-serious felonies."

See more of this interesting report here.

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