Group Demands Truly Automatic Civil Rights Restoration

March 10, 2009

Becky Steele, West Central Florida Regional Director, (786) 363-2737
La Rhonda Odom, Racial Justice Project Associate, (786) 363-2718
Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications, (786) 363-2737 or

TAMPA, Fla. – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) today announced that it will organize events throughout Florida to raise awareness of Florida’s civil rights crisis and demand a truly automatic civil rights restoration process, including an event in Tampa on March 12, 2009.

Local Coalition members, including the Hillsborough Branch NAACP, the Hillsborough League of Women Voters, and the ACLU, will host a 7:00 p.m. showing of the BET Special “Locked Out: Ex-Cons & The Vote” followed by a panel discussion at the University Area Community Center, 14013 N. 22st Street, Tampa, FL 33613.

Lawyers from the George Edgecomb Bar Association will also be on hand to help people apply for rights restoration. More information can be found at

Florida’s civil rights restoration process remains lengthy and cumbersome for too many people with past felony convictions. Many people who are eligible and have completed applications are still waiting, in some cases for two to three years. Although the changes to the Clemency Rules in 2007 were intended to make the process easier for some, the fact is that the process is still burdensome to personnel and monetary resources, which translates into justice delayed.

“You do not feel complete when your rights have not been restored. Society continues to discriminate against you,” says Tonya Lewis, a former offender who is now a business owner and director of a children’s non-profit organization.

These events are intended to get the word out and put pressure on Governor Crist and the Clemency Board to get rid of the archaic, costly restoration of civil rights process in favor of one that is truly automatic and paper-free.

“FRRC members are committed to fighting for a truly automatic, paperwork-free civil rights restoration process, said La Rhonda Odom, ACLU of Florida Voting Rights Associate. “Florida cannot continue to manage such a costly, time-intensive, overly bureaucratic system process when there are so many cuts being made to our state’s budget in areas that need the money. At the current rate, not only will the system fail to process applications in a timely manner but the State of Florida will go broke trying to do so. The Governor and Cabinet have not only a moral obligation but a duty to do the right thing for the State of Florida.”

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2009 Press Releases