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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida doesn't make it easy for those wishing to regain their vote

Gov. Rick Scott listens to Attorney General Pam Bondi. Both serve on the state Board of Executive Clemency, which restores, or more often doesn't, the civil rights of those convicted of a felony after they serve out their sentences.

[AP Photo | Steve Cannon]

Gov. Rick Scott listens to Attorney General Pam Bondi. Both serve on the state Board of Executive Clemency, which restores, or more often doesn't, the civil rights of those convicted of a felony after they serve out their sentences.

14

July

Adam McCracken has a Ph.D., practices psychology in Orlando and is married with two sons.

But for 25 years, the state of Florida said he couldn't be a full-fledged citizen because of a long-ago drug conviction.

McCracken served 10 months in a federal prison and five years on probation for possession with intent to distribute LSD.

It was a serious mistake. It happened in 1991. He was 21.

The case is so old that a Google search turns up nothing.

The state of Florida allows McCracken to practice psychology.

But he can't vote.

A law-abiding citizen for 26 years, he wants to bury his past. But the state won't let him.

Florida is one of three states that permanently revokes the civil rights of anyone convicted of a felony, a system that has disenfranchised an estimated 1.5 million people.

Even after felons complete their sentences, pay their fines and serve probation, they must wait at least five years to ask the state to restore their rights, and that can take a decade or more.

Most people don't bother. Many who try will die before their cases are heard.

McCracken, 47, is one of the lucky ones.

He regained his rights at a hearing in June before Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Cabinet members, who meet every quarter as the state Board of Executive Clemency.

"That's a lot of drugs," Scott said, glancing at McCracken's paperwork before voting to give him back his right to vote after his wife, Renee, spoke of how he helps children and adults cope with psychological issues and works to be a positive role model for his sons.

McCracken, the psychologist with the engaging smile, is one of tens of thousands of Floridians who are in a silent civil rights struggle in the nation's third-largest state.

There are no sit-ins, demonstrations or rousing speeches from political leaders.

Only the agonizingly slow process of begging the state's leaders for mercy — in public and on live television.

"It's ridiculous," McCracken said. "I just want to be able to vote."

Read the story here.

 

[Last modified: Friday, July 14, 2017 11:51am]

    

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