TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) - The Florida clemency board and Governor Rick Scott approved changes to the rules governing nonviolent offenders that will now prevent them from automatically getting their civil rights restored after serving their prison sentence.
The move, which happened with little debate, reversed previous law that allowed prisoners who had served their sentence, probation, restitution, and other requirements to more easily regain their ability to vote and other rights given to citizens, according to the News Service of Florida.
"Felons seeking the restoration of rights must show they desire and deserve clemency by applying only after they have shown they are willing to abide by the law," Scott told the NSF when he introduced the measure.
The new rules would force nonviolent offenders to wait five years after they complete their sentence and other requirements before they could apply to get their rights back. More serious crimes would be forced to wait seven years to get their rights restored, the NSF reported.
In addition, ex-cons who wanted to own a weapon would have to wait eight years to start the process. Clemency officials would also be prohibited from waiving any of the time periods for reacquiring rights.
The changes were only given to board members minutes before the meeting and had little time to digest all of the provisions, or question them.
In the end, it will give the phrases "paying your debt to society," and "serving your time," a completely different meaning in the future.
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service Of Florida contributed to this report.)
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