Seven years after he was paroled from prison after serving time for cocaine and assault, Desmond Meade, 44, has turned his life around, attending law school and working in a halfway house for addicts. But he is still waiting for restoration of his full citizenship and the right to vote, reports the St. Petersburg Times. He is one of 89,833 Floridians waiting to have civil rights restored by Gov. Rick Scott and three statewide-elected Cabinet members. And he’s in for a long wait.
Under new rules Scott and the Cabinet adopted in March, Meade must now wait seven years for a clemency hearing. A huge backlog of pending cases means it likely will take much longer for felons to regain the right to vote, serve on a jury or run for office. Led by Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, officials scrapped a streamlined clemency process begun by former Gov. Charlie Crist that they felt was too easy for ex-offenders. The new system requires felons to be crime-free for at least five years before their clemency petitions can be considered. Violent felons must wait seven years.