Sunday, September 08, 2013

Adam Putnam Is Not Serious on Clemency Review

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam talks about speeding up the clemency process for Florida convicted felons to have their voting rights restored. One idea floated by Putnam is not having nonviolent offenders having to come before the clemency board to get their voting rights restored.

"I don't think that going all the way back to full, automatic restoration is the way to go," he said. "But for certain classes of crimes, I think an expedited restoration process is appropriate. For more violent classes of crimes, I think they should still have to come before us. I like the fact that people show interest in it and affirmatively decide to seek their restoration. But I'm open to ideas on how to improve that process."

Why not propose that? "I haven't built the better mouse trap yet. We've just talked about ideas for a better mouse trap."

Putnam claims that he doesn't want to do the policy of nonviolent felons getting their rights restored without having to go through an extensive review process. The real reason Putnam is saying that is because Charlie Crist allowed nonviolent felons to apply to have their rights restored without having to go through the clemency board. What Putnam is proposing is essentially the same as the previous policy former Gov. Charlie Crist implemented. Putnam just won't put forward a sound solution because it was originally Crist's idea.

"I don't think that going all the way back to full, automatic restoration is the way to go," he said. "But for certain classes of crimes, I think an expedited restoration process is appropriate. For more violent classes of crimes, I think they should still have to come before us. I like the fact that people show interest in it and affirmatively decide to seek their restoration. But I'm open to ideas on how to improve that process."

Does Putnam even know what the difference is between his clemency policy and that of Charlie Crist?

Florida is one of four states to deny felons their voting rights. The others are Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia. Disenfranchising felons hasn't proven to deter crime. It does keep young black males from voting.

In three Southern states the numbers are more stark: In Florida, 23 percent of the voting-age black population can't vote because of a felony record; in Kentucky it's 22 percent; and in Virginia it's 20 percent. Taken together, one in five blacks living in those three states is disenfranchised.

Florida, with 1.5 million disenfranchised ex-felons, leads the nation.

It is 2013 and we are still fighting Jim Crow-style laws.

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