Felons’ Rights

It was a long time coming, but Florida now exits that short list of retro states that, in effect, didn’t restore the voting and civil rights of felons who had completed their sentences. Led by neo-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — and over the vigorous objection of Attorney General Bill McCollum — the Board of Executive Clemency reached a compromise that strikes a fair enough balance.

The petition process now only applies to those convicted of serious or violent crimes. Others will have their rights restored automatically upon completion of their sentence and the payment of any court-ordered restitution.

Inevitably, the “paid-debt-to-society” rationale carried the day, as it should have — although it’s a necessarily imperfect argument. Some debts, for example, are “paid” via plea bargains. And some simply can never be repaid. Ask anyone who has ever been violated — person or property — if they’ve ever slept the same again.

Some executive orders are worth signing – but not celebrating.

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