The Power of Crist Compels You

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Good on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist:

Citing the "holy week of redemption," Gov. Charlie Crist persuaded a reluctant Cabinet to pass a compromise plan Thursday that makes it easier for most ex-convicts in Florida to regain the right to vote, serve on a jury and get jobs.

The Cabinet, sitting as the state Clemency Board, voted 3-1 with Crist, following a contentious debate in which Attorney General Bill McCollum, who intensely opposed the measure, warned that it will incite more crime.

Maybe we should take McCollum at his word, but that sounds like an awfully stupid reason to block ex-cons (and we're talking any ex-cons, not just child-raping marauders from the Fox News A-roll) from ever snatching back some basic civic rights. Does he have interesting wiretapped conversations we're not privy to?

CROOK ONE: That's it, we're going to knock the Denny's over at 9 a.m. Mr. Brown, you're on lookout. Mr. Pink, you slash the waitress's throat. Mr. Mauve…
CROOK TWO: Boss, I can't. If we do this, and we got caught..
CROOK ONE: We won't get caught!
CROOK TWO: But IF we do—then I'll never be called for jury duty! Like, not ever again!
CROOK THREE: He's right. Plus the presidential primary is like 10 months away. And I've already donated to Brownback.
CROOK ONE: Damn. You're right. We're calling this off.

NEXT: A Tale of Two Scientific Consensuses

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  1. The whole legal system is idiotic and complex. If you simplify things you get better results. I’d ditch plea bargains, time off for good behavior, and parole, swapping them out for sentences in proportion to the crime, restitution, and when you’re done, you’re free to go.

  2. Well now, keep in mind that convicted felons aren’t allowed to legally own guns, which is why they never, ever commit a second gun-related offense.

  3. Kudos on the headline, David.

  4. My first honest reaction is no way ex-cons should ever be allowed votes, professional licences (rare), or anything other than basic blue-collar jobs.

    But, we allow some of the stupidest people on planet earth, not to mention 18-yo idiots who can’t tell their asses from a hole in the ground, to vote. If there’s a problem in the criminal justice system, then fix it. But, if they’ve served their punishment, then why not?

  5. This seems like a positive step. Crist is from St. Petersburg, which is an area that seems to loathe Bill McCollum. While it opened my eyes that the initiative was cloaked in such religious terms, a step forward is a step forward.

    Sidenote: I’m disgusted that Giuliani has Bill McScrotum running his Florida campaign. I take some long-distance pride in the fact that the Tampa Bay area derailed McCollum’s bid for the Senate. In my view, McCollum is the ultimate bumper sticker politician. If you can make a superficial argument in one sentence, then he’ll back your authoritarian crap, and even more so if it rhymes or contains aliteration.

  6. My first honest reaction is no way ex-cons should ever be allowed votes, professional licences (rare), or anything other than basic blue-collar jobs.

    Why? Once they’ve served their sentence, shouldn’t their debt to society be paid? They’re still going to have the stigma of having been ex-cons, but that stigma should be official policy.

  7. To me, this is simple. You commit a crime, are sentenced, and do the time. In other words, you have “paid your debt to society.” Continuing to punish people beyond that is absurd, and I think, counterproductive. Do you or do you not want people to be able to rejoin society?

  8. Oops. That should read “Shouldn’t be official policy.”

  9. I actually have a friend, wrongfully convicted of a felony (embezzlement of $510, yes $510), in Florida right now who laments that she cannot vote. She has served her time and managed to get through the legal hoops but still can’t vote or own a gun.

    Unfortunately for Passim, she is not working a “basic Blue-Collar job”, rather she now owns her own catering business/restaurant. The job she was accused of embezzling from? A no-collar video arcade.

  10. Maybe Crist will continue his holy week observance and pardon Richard Paey? Too much to ask for, I know…

  11. Do you or do you not want people to be able to rejoin society?

    Considering that most Americans are willing to ignore and snicker at phenomenon of prison rape, I would say that the answer is sad, sad, “no.” Most people believe that punishment and justice are the same thing. So any cruel, degrading, impoverished existence the ex-con faces after his release is just a part of “justitice” at work.

    Crist better gird his loins come next election cycle, because his opponent is going to play this for all that it’s worth, painting him as a “soft on crime” bleeding heart who’d let rapists, muders, and pedophiles into our voting booths, juries, and places of employment.

    Knowing the American people, it just might work too.

  12. Apparently some politicians are just unconvicted druggies? Can they vote for themselves.? Are they required to be pardoned for any past or future crimes they may commit?

  13. My first honest reaction is no way ex-cons should ever be allowed votes, professional licences (rare), or anything other than basic blue-collar jobs.

    Wow. Thank goodness we do not in fact do this. Just think of the level of effort involved making sure ex-cons never get jobs in offices!

  14. TWC-

    I get your point, but time off for good behavior and parole are both ways to incentivize good behavior. If the whole idea of punishment is to be a disincentive for bad behavior, then early release (including early monitored release, in the form of parole) is an incentive for good behavior.

    The guy who knows that he’s out on the street in X amount of years no matter what doesn’t face the same incentives as the guy who knows that he can get out early if he shapes up and stay out if he gets a job and stays away from crime.

    The counter-argument, of course, is that criminals already demonstrated a disinterest in incentives when they broke the law. Still, I’d rather have incentives than not have them.

  15. My first honest reaction is no way ex-cons should ever be allowed votes, professional licences (rare), or anything other than basic blue-collar jobs.

    Don’t a lot of blue collar jobs require some sort of license these days? Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, barbers, a lot of health care assistants (OK, more service sector than blue collar, but the service sector is a large and growing part of the economy), truck drivers, and numerous others all require licenses. Anybody who wants to start his own business will almost certainly have to get get some sort of permit for something or other.

    Limiting the scope of productive and lawful employment available to an ex-con is a great way to keep him from seeking productive and lawful employment. I mean, yeah, I get that the guy who embezzles money shouldn’t be allowed to work as a CPA, and the armed robber shouldn’t be driving armored cars, but other than a few really obvious things like that, I don’t see why you’d want to, say, bar a petty thief from training to be a dental assistant or whatever.

  16. Come to think of it, I might want to go out and commit a crime if it precludes me from having to serve on jury duty.

    Devil’s Advocate: What if all the convicted child-molesters, with voting rights now restored, formed a coalition and lobbied to block “Jessie’s Law” – a law that is intended to make their crimes harder to perform? Do we really want them to have any influence in those cases?

  17. Strange, politicians don’t need no stinkin’ license!!

  18. I don’t see why you’d want to, say, bar a petty thief from training to be a dental assistant or whatever.

    Uh, why did I get Nitrous for a simple cleaning? And do you know where my watch is? I could swear I had it on when I came in here…

  19. Damn! evryone jumped down my throat even worse than yesterday when I REALLY made an ass of myself.

    Like I said, it was my first–gut–reaction. Yes, I have a hard time accepting ex-cons as citizens. Purely on a gut level, I want them to be ditch-diggers.

    When I let reason have its sway in my heart, I say that yes, they should vote and have good jobs. If there’s a reason we should doubt them after they get out of the clink, then we need to address the problems of the clink.

    Akira: agree with you wholeheartedly. Prison rape should neither be laughed at, nor should it be considered part of the punishment. Despite practices we might now consider inhumane, I think the developers of the penitentiary (Quakers–a place to do penitence)had the right idea.

  20. And, speaking of the origin of terms: doesn’t Department of Corrections mean the agency in charge of correcting?

  21. jimmydageek,

    Sorry, but a Child Molester Lobby has less than zero chance of ever being successful blocking any piece of legislation, for reasons that should be obvious.

  22. Jessie’s Law
    explain, please

  23. bchurch

    That was just one example. Substitute [child molesters] for [any criminals] and [jessie’s law] for [any law that would limit their ability to commit same crime / make punishment more severe for same crime]. Given the right to vote on laws that would be bad for their kind, I’d assume they’d vote against it – and try to get others to do so as well.

    Passim: Jessie’s Law (Jessica Lunsford Act)

  24. Ok, maybe saying that I assume they would do such a thing is the wrong way to put it. However, the possibility is there.

  25. You know, I wish that they’d repeal Jessie’s Law…

  26. jimmy,

    I’m not sure that any of those laws really work anyway. Sure, they’re “designed” to eliminate recidivism, and they’re impossible for politicians to vote against, but whether they actually have any effect is debatable.

  27. Given the right to vote on laws that would be bad for their kind, I’d assume they’d vote against it – and try to get others to do so as well.

    Ex-cons already have the legal ability to lobby, unless there’s some restriction I’m not aware of. Yet I don’t see any commercials paid for by “Child Molesters For Rape”. What does the ability to vote have to do with lobbying?

  28. In this open air prison we call the USA, we’ve all broken some law. Some of us just haven’t been caught yet.

  29. OK, count me as an opponent of Jessie’s Law.

    Granted: easy for me to say since I have no little girls. But, for the record, I do have little boys, and (gasp!) I’ve left them in the care of other grown men at times. What could be going on? Dear God! When my neighbor let my kids go swimming in his pool, was he ogling them in their skivvies?

    Anyway, as for the rights of ex-cons to vote…

    Again, my emotional reaction is NO WAY. And it’s purely emotional. I do remember, however, Michael Dukakis’ soliciting votes from prison inmates (who were alowed to vote in Mass at the time) (Am I dating myself?). That was totally unacceptable–and still is, if Mass still gives the vote to cons.

    So, we have to accept that–for whatever reason–there’s a distrust of ex-cons. The existence of such distrust, IMHO, indicates that the correctional system is somehow wrong.

    Am I preaching to the choir? If so, then at least let the choir sing a Negro spiritual in response.

  30. I’m having a hard time seeing why anyone should be allowed to vote but not allowed to own a gun.

    I mean, if we’re restoring rights because you paid your debt to society, why some rights and not others?

    And if we’re denying you the right to own a gun because we’re not convinced you really are a good citizen, why isn’t that an equally good reason to deny you the right to vote?

  31. Crist better gird his loins come next election cycle, because his opponent is going to play this for all that it’s worth,…

    I dunno. He already survived the “Charlie’s gay” charge from his opponent in the Republican Primary and plenty of innuendo in the general election (of course Democrats would never come write out and play a gay card, would they?).

    So far Crist seems to be a very popular governor. The papers seem to be gushing over him. Even op-eds against him seem to pitch the softest of softballs.

    Just like in the Cabinet, in the state in general people who think like McCollum are outnumbered.

    As to Crist’s popularity I am still mystified.

  32. Can we stop naming laws after adorable little girls already? It’s even more offensive (to me) than cutesy acronyms.

  33. RC Dean

    In Switzerland, the Duty to vote and the Duty to own a gun are inextricably linked.

    Until recently, those clockmakers realy had the right idea.

  34. Rhywun

    with you, brother. (actually, I thought that was a boy’s name at first)

    It’s disgusting. Why not call them all “Anti-Puppy-Murder-Law”? Or “If-You’re-Opposed-To-It-You-Despise-Everything-Good-And-Decent-In-The-Universe-You-Hitler-Worshipping-Bastard-Law”?

  35. Strange, politicians don’t need no stinkin’ license!!

    That’ll probably be in McCain-Feingold II.

  36. rst – is that you? are you back?

    “it’s still just a rock” – that rst?

    woo hoo!

  37. I predict that “felons’ rights” will continue to become a bigger issue as we decide to throw the book at more and more people in this country.

  38. Gary Glitter covering Rick Springfield | April 6, 2007, 1:19pm | #

    You know, I wish that they’d repeal Jessie’s Law…

    Where can I find legislation like that?

  39. Stevo knocks it out of the park!

  40. jimmydageek | April 6, 2007, 1:14pm | #
    bchurch

    That was just one example. Substitute [child molesters] for [any criminals] and [jessie’s law] for [any law that would limit their ability to commit same crime / make punishment more severe for same crime]. Given the right to vote on laws that would be bad for their kind, I’d assume they’d vote against it – and try to get others to do so as well.

    How about substituting [people convicted of trafficking of marijuana] for the first and [laws to legalize possession of marijuana] for the second?

  41. Remember that this is a change in the way the Clemency Board, a Florida constitutional agency, puts into effect its constitutional power to “restore civil rights”: it is akin to granting a pardon, and thus is subject to the discretion of the Clemency Board. It is not a change in state law as to whether conviction of a felony forfeits, rather than suspends, civil rights. A different Clemency Board could adopt different rules.

  42. Ever notice how Pro Libertate is never around when Charlie Crist makes an appearance? (check above). Is it coincidence that they’re both from the same part of Florida?

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