Nearly six months after Florida made it easier for some felons to regain their civil rights, the system is choked by a backlog of more than 100,000 cases awaiting review, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Disagreements between two state agencies that screen ex-offenders, the Department of Corrections and the Florida Parole Commission, over which inmates qualify for review are exacerbating the delay. Since April 5, when the state allowed many non-violent ex-felons to regain their rights without going through a tedious clemency process, about 17,000 inmates have been released from state prison.
Nearly half of that total automatically regained rights that allow them to vote, run for office, serve on a jury and apply for dozens of state-issued licenses. Other felons who did time for more serious crimes, from aggravated stalking to manslaughter, must be investigated and approved by the governor and the cabinet. Murderers and sex offenders are not eligible for faster review under the new system. The Florida Parole Commission says 34,444 felons have had their rights restored under the new rules since April 5, far more than in any previous six-month period. The prison system identified a total of 298,000 ex-inmates eligible for review under the new rules.