Rick Scott and Cabinet's Decision for Ex-Con Voting Hurdles Seems Bogus, Study Implies

Categories: Politics
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prwatch.org
As much as Gov. Rick Scott likes to make the rules, it looks like his Cabinet's idea for making new hurdles for ex-convicts to have their civil rights restored was pulled out of their collective asses, according to implications from a recent study by the Florida Parole Commission.

The study says just 11.1 percent of ex-cons who have their civil rights restored in the past two years returned to being in the custody of the state corrections department. On the other hand, last year's Florida Department of Corrections study showed that 33.1 percent of all inmates released from prison since 2001 usually found themselves back in prison within three years.

In light of this display of policy failure, the champion of the voter suppression law for former felons, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, somehow still thinks the rights-restoration process is working well -- although she didn't address the actual findings.

"I am pleased with the Parole Commission's report, which clearly demonstrates their hard work to ensure a smooth and expeditious application process for the restoration of civil rights," Bondi said in a statement.

Although it seems pretty clear that there's a correlation between rights restoration and reduced recidivism rates, there is already a decline in the number of ex-cons getting their civil rights back.

In 2009, nearly 25,000 ex-felons had their rights restored. That number dropped to around 5,700 in 2010.

It's likely that number will go even lower in 2011, considering the state's new policy implemented by the governor and his Cabinet.

The new law requires anyone convicted of a felony in a state -- from rapists and murderers who get released from prison down to those with marijuana or felony DUI convictions -- have to wait at least five years to have their rights restored to vote, be selected for jury duty, or get a state license.

For the most serious crimes, cons have to wait seven years after serving their sentences.

The original law before Scott showed up was automatic restoration of civil rights, but according to the Florida Current, the new policy caused 60,000 former felons to become ineligible for rights restoration.

So why was this policy decision made? Aside from the political talking points that have been thrown out there by Scott supporters and left-wing talking heads, it really looks like -- as we said earlier -- that they pulled this one out of their asses.

"The Board's action was based on their belief that it is appropriate to grant the restoration of civil rights only to individuals who have demonstrated over a period of time that they are committed to living a crime-free life," the parole commission report says. "The Board reasoned that this waiting period provides them with the opportunity to determine whether, in fact, the person has made that commitment."

Sympathy to criminals isn't exactly a popular platform in political realms, but then again, neither is implementing policy on a hunch.

Click here to read the report in its entirety.


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10 comments
Lore
Lore

That isn't exactly true, from voting registration I did in 2008 there was a waiting period for rights restoration even then, though I forget the exact amount of time on that. I remember some of the people I volunteered with for the 08 Obama campaign telling me about how they'd fought for years to get the length of time on rights restoration shortened. I also remember ex-cons telling me they weren't eligible to re-register or register at all yet. I'd have to look it up but rights restoration in Florida was never instantaneous upon release.

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white lady bath salt

Unfortunately, in March of this year, Governor Rick Scott and members of his Cabinet voted to eliminate the automatic restoration of voting rights for convicted felons. They claim that only individuals who have demonstrated a ...

Carolcuevas
Carolcuevas

What I cannot understand is that if one has served their time and punished by the courts and prisons, why they have to be continually punished? I would think it is unconstitutional to punish someone after they have done their punishment.

Abelli
Abelli

It belongs to the difference between nations with world widehighest prisoner rate (for security reason of course) and for example OldEurope’s nations. Only those ex-cons loose voting their right when it is explicitexpressed in verdict by judge. Possibly Correction and Rehabilitation didn’tinclude teach in democracy as exemplified in AbuGhraib.

rogerclegg
rogerclegg

I think the article is confusing cause and effect:  The felons that have turned over a new leaf are more likely to vote, but that doesn't mean that being able to vote made them more likely to turn over a new leaf.  Look, it's very simple:  If you're not willing to follow the law, you can't claim a right to help make the law for everyone else, which is what you are doing when you vote.  The right to vote should not be restored automatically, but carefully and on a case-by-case basis, once the person has shown he has really turned over a new leaf.  Check out our website:  http://www.ceousa.org/content/...

Johnny
Johnny

another day, another hit job on governor scott. What a sad life you lead.

Lore
Lore

 Continuing to punish criminals after they've done their time is just people taking their vendettas a little too far. We want criminals punished but by our own laws the length of time for incarceration has its limitations. Once you've finished your sentence and your parole there's no REASON behind continuing to deny people their rights. When ex-cons are made to feel apart from the rest of society you only push them back towards the lives of crime they led before. People will always go back to what's familiar when their life is in turmoil and uncertainty. You have to give them reasons to want to stay on the straight and narrow path, and by restoring their rights and making it easier for them to find decent paying jobs you do just that. It's easy for privileged people to say "well if they really wanted to then they'd just do this" but if you've never been underprivileged, if you've never been an addict, or grown up in an abusive family or a bad neighbourhood then you don't really know what it's like. It's easy to judge but it's a lot harder to extend that ounce of kindness that can help people turn their lives around.

Carolcuevas
Carolcuevas

First, no one knows which came first, the chicken or the egg. I just think that if someone has done their time, that is the end of it. I come from CT and this is how the law goes. Most progressive States whose civilization is not in the last century also restore rights when their punishment is over.

GuntherZorn
GuntherZorn

Another day, another lie by governor Scott. What a POS he is.

aliceinwonderland
aliceinwonderland

another day, another hit job BY governor scott.  What a bad life he leads.

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