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No compromise on felons’ rights after Bondi meets with ACLU, NAACP

by Dara Kam | March 2nd, 2011

Attorney General Pam Bondi is not backing away from her proposal to do away with Florida’s limited automatic restoration of rights for nonviolent felons after meeting with civil rights advocates today.

But she did say she supported uncoupling current employment restrictions that prevent convicted felons from getting certain occupational licenses unless their civil rights are restored, a lengthy process that could get even more cumbersome if Bondi gets her way.

ACLU of Florida executive director Howard Simon and Dale Landry, vice president of NAACP Florida conference, met with Bondi for about an hour to discuss proposed clemency rule changes among other things.

The meeting was friendly, Simon said, but Bondi refused to budge on her desire to force felons to wait three to five years to apply to have their rights restored.

“This is a huge problem for the state of Florida,” Simon told reporters afterward. “We’re only going to increase the problem by delaying the period of time for the restoration of civil rights.”

Bondi’s proposal, expected to be voted on at the next clemency meeting on March 8, could add to the a backlog of tens of thousands of applications for restoration of rights that already take the Parole Commission years to process.

Keeping felons who’ve served their time from being able to vote, serve on a jury or hold dozens of professional licenses increases their chances of committing new crimes and going back to prison, Simon said. The system dates back to an 1868 Florida constitutional convention that sought to prevent freed slaves from voting, he said.

“This is the unfinished business of the civil rights movement,” Simon told reporters after the meeting. “People need to know this has a very ugly history.”

Landry called the delay of rights restoration a national issue, but both he and Simon praised Bondi for meeting with them.

“While our opinions on the restoration of civil rights differ, I believe that constructive dialogue is an important part of the process to improve the restoration of civil rights rules,” Bondi, elected in November, said in a statement.

Bondi and the civil rights advocates reached some accord – she agrees that Florida should change the occupational licenses system that bans felons from certain professions, including barbers, air conditioning repair and cosmetology.

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4 Responses to “No compromise on felons’ rights after Bondi meets with ACLU, NAACP”

  1. nemo Says:

    Felons don’t have rights. Once the did the crime for which they were/are doing time, they became convicted felons. They don’t have, or deserve rights.

  2. Merk Says:

    I think their rights should be restored after the original sentence time elapses. If they get 30 years, and serve 10, restore their rights in 30.

  3. Corinne T. Miller Says:

    In an effort to show how “tough on crime” they are ,our legislature has designated as felonies, petty crimes that were once misdemeanors. Many non-violent offenders are caught in the web and are then basically serving a life sentence.

    Where is the sense of compassion in our leaders?

    This is so obviously voter suppression by the Republican majority. They think that everyone who once made a mistake will vote against them.

  4. Violet Says:

    This is a racist plan to go back to the Jim Crow era. It is not about felons – it is about politics wanting to disenfranchise African-Americans.

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