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ACLU Calls on Gov. Scott, Clemency Board to Reform Voting Ban Policy in “Precious Little Time” before UN Review

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ACLU Calls on Gov. Scott, Clemency Board to Reform Voting Ban Policy in “Precious Little Time” before UN Review

March 10, 2014

Letter sent today by ACLU of Florida Regional Director who is travelling to Geneva to testify before UN Committee on Human Rights on state’s lifetime voting bans for people with past felony convictions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 10, 2014
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, media@aclufl.org, (786) 363-2737

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sent a final warning to the Florida Board of Executive Clemency – made up of Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet – calling on them to reform Florida’s voting policies before they are the subject to international scrutiny at an upcoming United Nations review.

This week, the United States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) will be under review by the UN Committee on Human Rights. Lifetime voting bans for people with past felony convictions violate the ICCPR and because of calls from the ACLU and other groups, the Human Rights Committee will include the issue in its review of the United States’ compliance with the treaty.

Florida is by far the worst offender, as the state’s policies have shut about 1.5 million people out of our democracy, accounting for roughly one third of the disfranchised population of the United States, and preventing over 1 in 5 of the state’s African American population from voting. The problem was exacerbated by the current members of the Board of Executive Clemency in their first meeting in 2011, when they passed new restrictions on rights restoration that undid previous reforms and added new 5-7 year waiting periods to apply, which have all but stopped the rights restoration process in the state.

In the letter sent to the Clemency Board today, ACLU of Florida Mid-Florida Regional Director Dr. Joyce Hamilton Henry, who is travelling to Geneva to testify before the Committee on the issue of Florida’s felon disfranchisement on March 13th and 14th, calls on the Clemency Board to announce that they will address the issue at their upcoming March 19th meeting.

From the letter:

“In a February 11th speech, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out against policies such as Florida’s, which ‘have their roots in centuries-old conceptions of justice that were too often based on exclusion, animus, and fear’ and ‘defy the principles of accountability and rehabilitation that guide our criminal justice policies.’ The ACLU of Florida agrees, and we believe that those who have returned to our communities should have full and equal rights of citizenship.”

[…]

“I therefore urge you, in the precious little time that remains before that review, to publicly state that you will take action to bring Florida into compliance with our obligations to international human rights standards at the upcoming meeting of the Clemency Board.

“If you do not, our state’s failure to make our democracy fully inclusive will be put forth on the international spotlight and we will find ourselves in the all-to-familiar position of international embarrassment for our failures to protect the right of all citizens to vote.”

The full letter is available here: http://aclufl.org/resources/letter-to-clemency-board-about-un-iccpr-review/

Contact: ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363-2737, media@aclufl.org

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