Governing the Restoration of Civil Rights for Ex-felons: An Evaluation of the Executive Clemency Board in Florida

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Contemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice






In Florida, when someone is adjudicated guilty of a felony crime, they lose the right to vote. The only way to regain these rights is to go through the process of rights restoration. The civil rights restoration hearings in Florida have the potential to serve as a formal ceremony in which individuals are acknowledged for their recovery from crime and readmitted into the political community. Data from the Governor’s office, observations of the Executive Clemency Board, and interviews with ex-offenders who have experience with the restoration process, were evaluated to determine the impact these hearings have for ex-offenders’ reintegration. Results suggest that the low success rate, cumbersome process, and lengthy amount of time required may all serve to further alienate the many applicants who are rejected, impeding their reintegration into the community. Recommendations to either simplify the process of rights restoration or to remove ex-felon disenfranchisement policies are given.