Monday, March 13, 2017

Florida: Law Suit for Clemency

Florida's Executive Clemency Board reports that a class action lawsuit was filed today which aims "automatically restore former felons’ voting rights and eliminate Florida’s rights restoration process." The suit was filed by the Fair Elections Legal Network and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC on behalf of seven former felons.

The publication notes:
Florida is one of just a handful of states that does not automatically restore voting rights once a felon has paid his or her debts to society. There are 1.6 million Floridians currently disenfranchised—the highest state total in the nation—and over 10,000 are waiting for a hearing on their restoration applications. There is currently an effort to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot 2018 by the group Floridians for a Fair Democracy that would automatically restore voting rights for non-violent felons. 
Currently felons must complete their sentences and wait 5- 7 years before petitioning the State's Executive Clemency Board (the Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Agriculture), They then wait "an indeterminate amount of time" (months to as much as 10 years) to make it on the Board’s "quarterly meeting agenda." The plaintiffs note:
As of March 1, the backlog of applicants for voting rights restoration stood at 10,513, but the suit alleges that the Clemency Board only hears an average of 52 cases per quarter. “At this rate, if no new applications were submitted, it would take the Clemency Board almost 51 years to hear the entire backlog of applicants” ...
Since Governor Scott took office in 2011 only 2,488 applications having been granted. Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Crist, revised the rules of executive clemency and granted 155,133 applications. See full story here.

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