Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale) and Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) are both carrying bills making it easier for ex-felons to have their civil rights restored to allow holding certain state licenses or voting. Thurston says the current process is flawed. Today, ex-offenders have to go before Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet—as the Executive Clemency Board—and ask that their rights be restored. “Under the previous administration’s attempt to reform restitution of rights, we had some 155,315 individuals who actually got their rights re-instated,” said Thurston. “Under the current administration, since 2011, we’ve only had 2,340. Basically what we’re saying is that it really shouldn’t be subjective to who’s in power in the Governor’s office.”
And, Rouson says the goal is simple: “If we want people to be able to fully reintegrate themselves into society, after they’ve served their sentence, paid their debt, done their time, it’s vital that we do things that allow them to participate and express themselves in government in the governing progress as a part of being in community,” he said.
Both bills provide exceptions for automatic restoration, such as people convicted of rape or murder.