There are a lot of reasons why having a felony conviction on your record is detrimental to your future. We already know it can make getting a job or renting an apartment tough, for starters.
And in Florida, a felony conviction also can take away one of your rights as an American – the right to vote – even long after your incarceration is over.
According to reporting by NPR, felons regain their voting rights in most states after their sentences have been served. Some states don’t restore the rights until probation and parole periods are over.
That’s not the case in Florida, however.
In the four years that Gov. Charlie Crist spent in office, voting rights were granted again to more than 150,000 Floridians. But in the seven years of the Rick Scott administration that have followed, Florida has gone in reverse. Scott reversed some of Crist’s reforms, and during his time in office, just more than 3,000 convicted felons have had their ability to vote restored.
Florida’s tough laws date back to the Reconstruction Era and require those convicted of a felony to make a special request of state officials to restore those voting rights. With these laws, more than 10 percent of adults in Florida – nearly 1.5 million in all – can’t vote even though they have finished their sentences. More than 20 percent of African-American adults in the state can’t vote under the law.
That law could change, however. A group gathered more than 1 million signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot that could approve a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to most felons once their sentence is over.
Felonies are serious crimes with serious repercussions. If you’re facing a felony charge, an experienced defense attorney can work to prove your innocence or provide a vigorous defense. Your future – and perhaps your ability to take part in the American democratic process – is at stake.