ACLU asks clemency board to slow down on changes to restoration of rightsby Dara Kam | March 3rd, 2011
Civil rights advocates are asking the clemency board to hold off on changes to the state’s restoration of rights for felons scheduled for a vote Wednesday.
Attorney General Pam Bondi announced last week she was drafting a proposed rule change eliminating Florida’s limited automatic restoration of rights for felons convicted of non-violent crimes, approved by the executive clemency board under former Gov. Charlie Crist’s urging nearly four years ago.
But the sweeping changes proposed by Bondi, including a wait period of three to five years before felons can apply to have their rights – including the right to vote – restored have not yet been released just two work days before the scheduled vote.
In a letter to board members Bondi, Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, ACLU of Florida executive director Howard Simon asked the clemency board to delay the vote until the public has time to scrutinize them.
“The combination of suddenness, speed and lack of details have created an environment in which needed input is locked out or sitting on the side waiting to review, analyze and offer suggestions and counsel,” Simon wrote to each of the board members. “There is no emergency that requires action at your meeting next week. Rule changes can be made at any time.”
Simon, who met with Bondi earlier this week, wants the board to get public input before doing away with the current system.
“Any changes will impact Florida families and public safety for years to come. It’s more important to get the process and policy right than to get it done quickly,” he wrote.