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Civil Rights Restoration Slows To A Trickle

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The Legislature is loosening its get-tough-on-crime attitude, allowing more non-violent juveniles to avoid felony records. Figures show Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet are going in the opposite direction when it comes to restoring civil rights for ex-felons.

Mark Schlakman, a Florida State University senior program director, says 155,000 ex-convicts won back their civil rights in the four years before Scott and Cabinet stiffened the rules in 2011. Four years later, just 1,738 had their rights restored.  

“There’s some research that indicates there’s a positive correlation between civil rights restoration and a reduction in recidivism.”

Under the stricter rules, felons have to apply for civil rights restoration and some can wait up to 10 years. Florida is one of only three states that require the governor to approve. There are 1.5 million ex-convicts in Florida without civil rights and they are disproportionately minority.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.