Florida Continues to Lead the Charge Backward in Refusing to Restore Felons’ Rights

It came as no surprise that a case coming out (of all places!) the 2nd Circuit: Hayden v. Paterson, (Federal) refused to restore civil rights to felons even after re-stating the obvious racial disparity in our prison populations: “Blacks and Latinos are sentenced to incarceration at substantially higher rates than Whites, and Whites are sentenced to probation at substantially higher rates than Blacks and Latinos. For example, in 2001 Whites made up approximately 32% of (continued on page 2)

total felony convictions, yet comprised 44% of those who received probation and only 21.4% of those incarcerated for felony convictions. By contrast, Blacks made up 44% of those convicted of a felony, yet approximately only 35% of those sentenced to probation and over 51% of those sentenced to incarceration.” The Federal court upheld New York’s felon disenfranchisement statute because it is “non discriminatory”.

Florida legislators have tried and will (hopefully) continue to try to allow convicted felons who have served their sentences to have their civil rights restored. South Florida criminal lawyers have, and continue, to lead the charge to restore civil rights for felons who have returned to our communities after serving a prison term. Our community can take pride that so many of our South Florida criminal defense attorneys, many of whom are within a stone’s toss of Fort Lauderdale, are involved in this struggle to restore civil rights.

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