Until 2007, convicted felons in Florida had to apply to the Executive Clemency Board (formerly the State Pardons Board) for restoration of their civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office. Over the years many have argued that this rule was racially or politically motivated to disfranchise specific populations from voting. Others have argued that the rule protected the safety of the greater public. On April 5, 2007, after much debate, the Executive Clemency Board voted 3-1 (Attorney General Bill McCollum was the dissenting vote) to streamline the approval process for people with convictions for non-violent felony offenses.
In 2007, the Executive Clemency Board consisted of Governor Charlie Crist, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson, and Attorney General Bill McCollum. The board usually meets four times a year. Currently authorized by the Florida Constitution of 1968 (Article IV, Section 8), the Governor, with approval of a majority of the members of the Cabinet, may grant full or conditional pardons, restore civil rights, commute punishment, and remit fines and forfeitures.
Charlie Crist was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania in 1956, although he grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. After attending Florida State University and Wake Forest University, he received his law degree from Cumberland School of Law. After several years in private practice, he served as U.S. Senator Connie Mack's state director. In 1992, he was elected to the Florida Senate. In 2000, he became the last elected Commissioner of Education, followed in 2002 by his election as Attorney General. On November 7, 2006, he was elected Governor of the State of Florida.
This series consists of the notes (two pages) created by Governor Charlie Crist during the April 5, 2007 meeting of the Executive Clemency Board. They reveal the governor's thoughts and arguments regarding the change in the Board's rules.
- These people have paid their debt to society ... and once that debt has been fully paid - we do not have the moral right to add to it.
- What would give this body the right to add five more years, five more weeks or 5 more minutes to someone's sentence. Handed down by a judge and jury?
- Dignity, justice, honor; at what point does the punished have the right to a simple chance to come back to society.
-Can't we find it in our hearts to choose to forgive and not forever condemn.