TALLAHASSEE – A new report found the state of Florida is losing hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of potential jobs every year because of its restrictive policy for restoring felons’ rights.
Voters will decide this November whether felons should be automatically allowed to vote after they’ve paid their debt to society.
“It does good things for families, reuniting those families together and enabling them to get back on their feet to become productive citizens, paying taxes and contributing back to society,” said Dominic M. Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch.
A new report by the Washington Economics Group suggests voting yes on Amendment 4 could save taxpayers money.
The report suggests Florida’s economy has lost $385 million and 3,500 potential jobs every year since Governor Rick Scott implemented a five-year waiting period for felons to apply for clemency in 2011.
“It highlights that there are other implications to the civil rights restoration scenarios in Florida, again being arguably the most restrictive state in the nation,” said human rights attorney Mark Schlakman.
The Governor’s Office responded to the report saying, “The concept that Florida’s economy is not booming and that clemency guidelines have reduced tax revenue or economic growth is absolutely false.”
The Governor’s Office points to 1.5 million new jobs and a a 47-year low in the state’s crime rate as a counter to the reports findings.
Economic watc dogs point to budget shortfalls in state agencies including the Department of Corrections as examples of how the additional revenue could be used.
“It could go into treating mental health and drug abuse instead of taking folks who need that treatment and locking them up,” said Karen Woodall with the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.
The state is currently appealing a ruling by a federal judge, who found the state’s clemency process unconstitutional.