Seven years after Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet voted to end the state policy that automatically restored the civil rights of nonviolent offenders after they complete their sentences, a price tag has emerged. Florida lost an estimated $385 million a year in economic impact, spent millions on court and prison costs, had 3,500 more offenders return to prison, and lost the opportunity to create about 3,800 new jobs. Those are just some of the conclusions of a new economic research report prepared by the Republican-leaning Washington Economics Group of Coral Gables for proponents of Amendment 4, the proposal on the November ballot that asks voters to allow the automatic restoration of civil rights for eligible felons who have served their sentences.
The report was commissioned by the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a national criminal justice reform organization that works with crime survivors, to show the economic impact of approving the amendment.
But the findings show more than the economic impact of what could happen if voters approve it. They also estimate the cost of the policy that was fast-tracked into law by the governor and Cabinet a month after taking office in 2011, its impact on crime and its cost to taxpayers.