Proposed amendment would restore non-violent felons' rights

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS DESK) - Four times a year, the Governor and Cabinet listen to pleas for mercy from convicted felons.

“Yes, I was convicted of manslaughter, and I did it,” Convicted Felon Wesley Weissenburger said.

Thursday, there were 85 cases on the agenda.

“I wish you the best of luck," Governor Rick Scott said. "I want to think about it. I’m gonna take it under advisement.”

But prior to 2011, when Governor Scott and Pam Bondi took office, restoration of rights was near automatic for felons who’d paid their debt to society.

Datravicious Smith started the clemency process in 2012. He asked for and got his right to vote back.

“I don't think just given to you back automatically. You never know,” Smith said.

Jai Jurawan wasn’t so lucky. He came with hopes of a pardon.

“Not getting it…it sucks,” Jurawan said.

The Florida Supreme Court has cleared an amendment for the 2018 ballot that would automatically restore nonviolent felons' rights.

Richard Greenberg is the President Elect of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “They get released, get off off probation or get out of prison and they can’t vote. It makes no sense,” he said.

It the amendment gets on the ballot and if it passes, it could automatically restore the rights of well over a million felons. That’s a big if. Organizers still need to collect another 700,000 signatures, and they’re trying to do it with all volunteer labor.