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Florida Felons want their voting rights to be restored – The Atlantic

Florida Felons want their voting rights to be restored – The Atlantic

In the state of Florida, former criminals are currently able to seek relief. Five years after the termination of all conditions of their sentence (including probation and conditional release), former criminals can submit a request for a petition ("restoration of civil rights", in the official language). In 2016, 473 former criminals received leniency from the State Board of Executive Clemency, according to a Florida Commission on Offender Review spokesperson. In total, 3,188 people volunteered. The number of pardon scholarships varies depending on who occupies the governor's mansion. 30,672 people had their civil rights restored in the last two years of Charlie Crist's tenure as governor. (He served just before the current governor, Rick Scott.)

Harrison does not mind the inequality because he trusts the process. "Depending on who happens to be in the governor's mansion, there may be more or less, but it works, because in fact pardon is granted," he told me. "Since the Civil War, the Florida Constitution has stated that convicted criminals lose the right to vote," Harrison explains, so he chooses to postpone this long-standing policy. A lot has changed since the civil war – there were no black voters in Florida – but he believes the current affection process must continue. The leniency process is currently being challenged at the federal court, and in March a court ruled that the current system is so arbitrary that it is unconstitutional & # 39 ;, according to The Miami Herald. If the change succeeds, this case will be discredited.

The former American congressman and convicted criminal Bob Ney (right) and his fellow ex-convicted assistant Neil Volz. (CQ Roll Call via AP)

Volz once pardoned but got frustrated when the board kept telling him that he had not submitted all his paperwork. In his opinion, this spun out process is not necessary. Volz is the chairman of the homeless coalition of his county and he works there with the drug and alcohol recovery program, but he still does not feel that he can fully commit himself. "People who repay their debt to society and have done everything the judicial system asked them are not fully able to participate in their community" if they can not vote, he said. "But if we all got into buses and moved to Texas tomorrow, we could vote there." Volz insisted that former former criminals can vote again, "they can help bring about a more inclusive democracy." The reason, he explained, is that because they are excluded from the political system, they have not fallen victim to the hyperpartnerhood & # 39; that is so common in America now. "Suddenly, conversations become a bit more about problems, a little more about how you can work together and do things like a community," he said.

Meade sees it the same way. "A while ago, I was pressing my community," he confessed. "Now I have become an asset … I should be able to vote." People like him are "in our homes, they are in our neighborhoods, they are in our churches," he said, and they "are left to suffer and walk around with a scarlet letter" even after they have finished their sentence. Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice of NYU, believes that it is crucial for people to approve their past with criminal convictions for their success in society. "If you want people involved in antisocial behavior to be in the habit of taking pro-social activities, there is nothing more pro-social than voting", Pérez told me. "It is truly an act of love and faith and hope and dedication to something as big as the country and your neighbors."

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