Florida citizens voted this week to approve Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights to citizens convicted of certain felonies. About 1.5 million Floridians could be impacted by this change, nearly ten percent of the adult population of the state.
Rob Scott is the executive director of the Cornell University Prison Education Program, which has served over 200 incarcerated students in New York state. He says that the next question for Amendment 4 is whether the Republican-controlled state house will make it harder for those felons to vote in future elections.
“The Florida proposition restoring the vote to felons is for those who have completed parole/probation, are not currently incarcerated, and do not have a murder or sexual offense crime. I would expect this to take the number of eligible felons down to 1 million. I'm seeing about 400,000 in jail, prison, parole, or probation and estimate that another 100,000 will have sex-related or murder/manslaughter type charges.
“The next thing is to ask whether the Republican controlled house will encourage them to vote, or whether there will be statutes passed to expand parole and probation in order to disenfranchise the newly enfranchised voters.
“On bulk, I think the measure is very positive. Enfranchising a million voters is nothing small. It is a big deal and a shift in American criminal justice policy thinking in relation to the concept of rehabilitation and second chances.”