Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will ask the state’s clemency board on Thursday to approve his proposal to speed up the restoration of civil rights to convicts who have finished their prison sentences, reports the Miami Herald. Noting that it is a ”week of forgiveness,” a reference to Good Friday and Easter, Crist is ”hopeful” that fellow board members Attorney General Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson will sign off on the proposal.
Florida is one of the few states where felons are not automatically given their civil rights — which includes voting rights, the ability to apply for professional licenses or the right to serve on a jury — after they are released. ”I believe that in my heart everyone deserves a second chance,” said Crist. “They deserve an opportunity to get on with productive lives.” Crist has changed his proposal in an effort to win the two votes he needs, including adding a requirement that a former prisoner make full restitution of any fines or court costs before rights are restored. Fellow Republican McCollum said restoring civil rights to all ex-prisoners was ”reckless and irresponsible.” McCollum said Crist’s plan would eliminate waiting periods for all but a handful of criminals.