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Scott, clemency board do away with automatic restoration of rights for felons

by Dara Kam | March 9th, 2011

Convicted felons who have served their sentences and paid restitution must now wait a minimum of five years before applying to have their rights restored, under changes approved by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet acting as the board of executive clemency today.

The new rules impose a five-year wait period for those convicted of non-violent crimes. Those convicted of violent crimes, including murder or DUI manslaughter, must wait seven years and require a hearing to request to have their civil rights, including the right to vote, restored.

Florida will now join two other states with such severe restrictions limiting former felons from voting.

The board did not release the proposed rule changes to the public until moments before the meeting began and limited public testimony to two-minutes per person for a total of 30 minutes before unanimously approving the changes.

“Felons seeking restoration of civil rights demonstrate they desire and deserve clemency only after they show they’re willing to abide by the law,” Scott said.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, a former prosecutor, first suggested the rule change two weeks ago. But it was Scott’s staff who explained the rules when questioned by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam Wednesday morning.

“I think they’re fair. I believe that there should be a waiting period and I believe that someone should have to ask to have their rights restored. I believe, as a 20-year prosecutor, any felony is a serious crime,” Bondi said.

Civil rights advocates, including five black lawmakers, objected to the rule changes, saying there is no evidence the current process – approved by Gov. Charlie Crist and the former Cabinet in 2007 – is not working.

NAACP vice-chairman Dale Landry said that those who have completed their sentences have paid their debt to society.

“Why do we come back and impose a further penalty?” Landry asked. “What we’re saying is that…I want to impose further sentencing. That’s what we’re talking about doing here.”

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho accused the board of turning back the clock to Florida’s post-civil war era imposing restrictions “whose sole purpose was to ensure that the former slaves of this state could never reintegrate into the society.”

But law enforcement officials supported the changes.

“I’ve heard the ‘term paid their debt’ ’til I almost rolled out of my chair. Part of the debt is the loss of these rights. They knew it going in,” said Jerry Hill, a 31-year state attorney in Florida’s Tenth Circuit. “Some of them had to work hard to get that designation of convicted felon. Seems to me it’s not unfair that we place some burden on them to earn the designation civil rights restored.”

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19 Responses to “Scott, clemency board do away with automatic restoration of rights for felons”

  1. Mike Says:

    Governor Scott presided over a monitary theft that likely totals more than all of Florida’s incarcerated population combined.
    Then spent 73 million of those dollars to become our Governor.
    Now he believes that every felony requires a sentence lengthened by 5 more years. This sentence prevents felons from voting.
    Shameful, costly, and regressive.

  2. mike Says:

    Good, scotts new law will keep alot of the crazy, racist t-gopers from voting. The liberal/moderate voters will come out in record numbers to recall these jacka$$es

  3. Proud Republican Says:

    @Mike, it’s people like you that Florida doesn’t need. We need to move forward, not backward. Hop in the back seat, please, while we drive.

  4. farmer Says:

    @ Proud Republican

    While you drive us off the CLIFF! This action moves us backwards.

  5. Nick Naranja Says:

    Where in the US constitution is the provision to disenfranchise felons. I think everyone (criminals included) deserve the right to vote.

  6. Proud Republican Says:

    Don’t worry, Farmer, I won’t drive off the cliff. However, I may open the back door and let you fall out if all you’re going to do is whine.

  7. thinker Says:

    Perhaps Scott should worry about more pressing matters. And are convicted felons clammering to vote??? So few people register, fewer still bother to vote. What are the odds they even bother.

  8. Darwinist Says:

    For many years it was permanent disenfranchisement with loss of voting rights and ability to hold elective office for committing a felony. This restriction worked well across the country. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

  9. mystery Says:

    I believe every case should be judged on a one to one basis. All circumstances are different. Football players, politicians, the Pulitzers of of the palm beaches, all seem to get away with a slap on the hand for the same felony crime as a first time offender, younger or older. Our system is so corrupt and it’s getting worse with this guy Scott running things. We are not a communist country so stop trying to micro manage this state as if it were.

  10. Reality Says:

    Those clamoring the most about “constitutional principles” and wanting their country back know nothing of the Constitution. The right to vote is not a privilege, but a right. It doesn’t need “reinstating” because we are born with it under the law. While its taken away as part of a sentence for the commission of crime, it should renew when the sentence ends automatically. Anything else is an additional sentence. There’s no other way to interpret this. Florida’s scheme should be challenged again, but with right wing judicial activists on the bench, relief is doubtful.

  11. greg Says:

    The sheep will follow Gov. Rick in lockstep to restore pre-Civil War culture and law in this state.

  12. Corinne Says:

    This action taken by the Republicans in the Cabinet acting as the Clemency Board, has nothing to do with justice but everything to do with voter suppression .

    The lack of transparency and the haste indicate that virtually no rational discussion of the consequences took place.

    Clemency means forgiveness. This crowd does not understand the word.

  13. LisaB Says:

    @Darwninist ~ That is exactly what we, who oppose these changes, have been saying. Once the offender has completed their court ordered sanctions, be it incarceration, probation, restitution, or all of the above, they should be allowed to re-integrate into society with every right they were born with. For the Board to add an extention of time beyond that of our justice system, 5 to 7 years after these sanctions are completed, is a complete injustice to our due process and an attack upon those who need encouragement to become productive citizens. It’s not about voting as much as it is about belonging.

  14. Joe Says:

    “Where in the US constitution is the provision to disenfranchise felons. I think everyone (criminals included) deserve the right to vote.”

    This is one of those times when conservatives don’t love the Constitution.

  15. TAX COLLECTOR,CAREER LIER AND HEAD OF LAKE COUNTY CULTURE OF CORRUPTION! Says:

    LAKE TAX COLLECTOR,CAREER LIER AND HEAD OF LAKE COUNTY CULTURE OF CORRUPTION!

    I shutter when I see Bob McKee referred to as “The Honorable Bob McKee.” Bob McKee is the most dishonorable person ever to hold public office in Lake County, Florida and I admit he has had some serious competition for the honor of this dishonor. A search of his history all the way back to his childhood on Long Island, NY and coming forward to his arrival in Lake County, Disney and New Jersey Great Adventures employment indicates this man has no idea of the meaning of the truth.
    His job applications at Orange County Sheriff’s Office as well as his resumes filed with Lake County Clerk of The Circuit Court James C. Watkins and the Lake County Board of County Commissioners to obtain employment all resulted in the termination of his employments for lying in the documents.
    Orange County Sheriff Department November 1976, Bob McKee lied about his recent arrest for DUI. Subsequently he was hired and worked three days before being caught and fired for lying on his application!
    James C. Watkins, Clerk of the Circuit Court terminated Bob McKee’s position as Deputy Clerk when it was discovered by Bruce Carroll that Bob McKee had lied on numerous entries on his resume including his education and employment dates with other agencies.
    Even then, The Lake County Board of County Commissioners hired McKee. Soon it was brought to the attention of commissioner Swartz that Bob McKee had once again lied on his resume by stating he held a master’s degree in public administration.
    Through a maze of exchanges between then county manager Pete Wahl and Bob McKee, he finally offers his resignation and Wahl accepts it. Soon Wahl is gone to the Villages and is still there!
    Around 1993 McKee becomes Lady Lake City Manager. Through his connections with the Villages he becomes “the man.” By 1995 he is back stronger than ever, he runs for and is elected Tax Collector of Lake County. Since becoming the Tax Collector of Lake County McKee has parlayed his connections from Disney and the Villages into a criminal empire that controls everything from Lake County to Tallahassee.
    If you want it done or want it stopped all you have to do is know Bob McKee. And if you ain’t important don’t think for one minute this sucker will return your call! It’s not Welton, It’s Bob McKee that’s the Boss of Lake County and it’s darn well past time to expose this tyrant and send him to the slammer where he belongs! Lying only proves he’s a politician, but the crimes are there to match the lies!

  16. Does State Rep O’Toole Really Know Bob McKee? Says:

    Does State Rep O’Toole Really Know McKee?
    Maybe State Representative Marlene O’Toole does not really know the character of Bob McKee. Maybe being a relatively newcomer she has missed the truths about this character which have been floating around Lake County for the last two decades!

    In an article written by Former (now deceased) Lake Sentinel Reporter Bill Bond dated August 16, 1992 Bond reports the remarks he received from Bob McKee at the courthouse regarding his termination of employment by then Lake County Clerk, James C. Watkins as; “I haven’t felt this bad since the war, the US Navy Veteran said, I haven’t felt this betrayed (by a government leader) since coming home from Vietnam.” If he went to Vietnam it was a short return trip in just 52 days in the Navy!
    Once again a review of Bob McKee’s US NAVY DD-214 (which has been circulating Lake County for years) proves he has lied to Bill Bond! The DD-214 shows an enlistment date of 3/13/1968 and a discharge date of 5/3/1968 for a grand total of 52 days in the US Navy! The reason for discharge “ERRONEOUS ENLISTMENT.” Does this mean he lied on his Navy enlistment papers too! Stranger things have happened! After all we are still waiting for someone to prove just one time where he has told the truth! We know politicians lie! But it is not necessary to make a career out of lying about everything like the Dishonorable Lake County Tax Collector Bob McKee has seen fit to do!

  17. State Rep O’Toole Really Knows Lake Sheriff Borders has a problem wanting to take young boys to his home! Says:

    State Representative Marlene O’Toole knows by her own admission that Lake Sheriff Gary Borders likes little boys! She invited him to help her mentor boys in her save the children organization. She knows he and his friends had a boys ranch (Green Isle Ranch) that was the site of untold rapes of boys ages 12-15 which the sheriff covered up the reports of the rapes! O’Toole needs to call for a real investigation into Sheriff Borders and State Attorney Brad King’s cover ups of these brutal rapes!

    She left the corporate life of IBM to retire to the Villages. Then she is selected to represent the people of the Villages in the Florida House or did she sign on to represent the culture of corruption of the Villages owner Gary Morse? If so this explains why she has not called for the governor to investigate the cover ups of these brutal rapes! Gary Morse want her to protect his sheriff that does his bidding! We know she is a very nice lady of super morals. She gives of her personal life to help children . She invites The sheriff Of Lake County Gary Borders to help in the mentoring of young males. Sheriff Borders inquires of her as to whether or not he can take the boys home with him! She advises him he can not. Sheriff Borders reply then why would I want to waste my time and efforts with them! She thinks this is an unusual response from the sheriff, but asks no questions.
    Then she finds out about the sheriff and his addiction to young males with no hair. She finds out Sheriff Borders and friends have had their own Green Isle Boys Ranch in Clermont from 1989 to 2010. She sees the flyer showing Borders, his jail cook Baby Ann, one of his captains and sergeants with some of the boys at the ranch. She knows he has a large presence at this boys ranch. She sees the news articles about five of the boys being raped by an older boy left in charge of them. She knows the school administrator Rev. Zepp is fired for trying to get help for these victims of violent sexual crimes! She knows Sheriff Borders has covered up the crimes of rape against five boys ages 12-15 at his Green Isle Ranch! Many other of her colleagues including Senator Alan Hays know about the atrocities at the Green Isle Ranch. Now the question is what has she done to support these boys and bring about an honest investigation into the brutal rapes they suffered and the cover up organized by sheriff Borders of these rapes? These victims deserve the people of Florida and the honest people of Lake County’s support for and honest investigation into this cover up of the crimes committed against them! Call or email Governor Scott today to advise him you are in support of investigating these crimes! The governor is aware of these crimes and will be glad to hear from you concerning your support of these actions.

  18. Roger Clegg, Ctr for Equal Opportunity Says:

    Those who don’t follow the laws should not automatically get to make the laws for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote should be restored carefully, on a case-by-case basis. See our website: http://www.ceousa.org/content/blogcategory/64/93/ Good decision.

  19. Fred Says:

    Strange how being on the receiving end of a felony conviction through obviously unethical and potentially illegal means will make you really study what your rights are. How many of the nay Sayers are combat vets , come from lineage of combat vets dating back to WWII , how may have been responsible for providing key LIFE preserving services to 4+ M FLORIDIANS ETC. Until someone challenges and has the $$$ to do it at the SC level utilizing existing SC case law nothing will change “Know that the legal definition of arrest is; to deprive a person of his liberty by use of legal authority. Knowing that liberty is a right secured by the U.S. Constitution, and “Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 US 436, 491. “There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of this exercise of constitutional Rights.” Snerer vs. Cullen, 481 F. 946. “The claim and exercise of a constitutional Right cannot be converted into a crime.”Miller vs. U.S., 230 F. 486, 489. “With regard particularly to the U.S. Constitution, it is elementary that a Right secured or protected by that document cannot be overthrown or impaired by any state police authority.” Connolly vs. Union Sewer Pipe Co., 184 US 540 Lafarier vs. Grand Trunk R.R. Co., 24 A. 848; O’Neil vs. Providence Amusement Co., 108 A. 887. “The police power of the state must be exercised in subordination to the provisions of the U.S. Constitution.” Bacahanan vs. Wanley, 245 US 60; Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. vs. State Highway Commission, 294 US 613.

    I think we all can agree that the constitution no longer applies in the U.S at least not to any branch of government local, state or Federal unless it benefits thos in power !

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