TALLAHASSEE It’s against the law in Florida for anyone found guilty of a felony to vote or own a firearm, unless the clemency board restores their civil rights, they’re pardoned or the conviction is expunged.
But that may change.
A bill making the rounds in the Florida Legislature would make it easier for felons to win back their rights to vote and own guns.
A measure proposed in the Florida House, House Bill 903, would give circuit and county judges a say on whether to reinstate a felon’s rights, according to a report by WJXT News4Jax.
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Currently, the cases are heard by the Office of Executive Clemency, a four-member panel led by Gov. Rick Scott, the outlet reported.
State Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, filed the bill Dec. 6. If passed, it would allow felons who have served their time and paid their fines to make cases for their rights to be reinstated. They would be able to petition the court once a year and prosecutors could challenge by presenting evidence and witnesses.
In a post on Facebook a few days before he filed the bill, Byrd wrote that the average time felons wait for their restoration of rights is nine years.
“Over 22,000 applications are pending, with only a few hundred being processed each year,” Byrd wrote in the post. “Clearly the system is broken.”