The Florida Parole Commission released a new study showing that an ex-offender whose civil rights have been restored is much less likely to return to prison than others in the released prisoner population.

Of the 30,672 former Florida felons that had their voting rights restored in 2009 and 2010, about 11% ended up back in custody. The recidivism rate for the overall released prisoner population is 33%.

Unfortunately, in March of this year, Governor Rick Scott and members of his Cabinet voted to eliminate the automatic restoration of voting rights for convicted felons. They claim that only individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to living a crime-free life should be eligible to vote, and that the (minimum) 5 year waiting period would provide the opportunity for ex-offenders to show that commitment.

However, the report contradicts the governor’s decision, and shows that streamlining the clemency process and restoring voting rights produces tangible benefits for both the individual and the community. In Florida, nearly 90,000 ex-offenders are currently waiting to have their civil rights restored. Let’s hope this report makes Governor Scott reconsider how long they should have to wait to vote again.

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