Florida Senate - 2017                                     SB 934
       By Senator Thurston
       33-01358-17                                            2017934__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to restoration of civil rights;
    3         providing a short title; providing legislative
    4         findings and purpose; creating s. 944.294, F.S.;
    5         defining the term “completion of sentence”; providing
    6         for automatic restoration of a former felon’s civil
    7         rights, other than the right to own, possess, or use
    8         firearms, after completion of his or her sentence of
    9         incarceration and conditions of supervision; providing
   10         conditions for and exemptions from automatic
   11         restoration; requiring a court to notify a defendant
   12         of specified information under certain circumstances;
   13         requiring the Secretary of State to develop and
   14         implement a program to educate the public about the
   15         civil rights of people who have felony convictions;
   16         amending ss. 944.292 and 944.705, F.S.; conforming
   17         provisions; providing retroactive applicability;
   18         providing a contingent effective date.
   20  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   22         Section 1. Short title.—This act may be cited as the
   23  “Restoration of Civil Rights Act.”
   24         Section 2. Findings and purpose.—
   25         (1)FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that:
   26         (a)The exercise of civil rights is a fundamental aspect of
   27  citizenship. Restoring civil rights allows former felons to
   28  participate in public service, serve on juries, and pursue
   29  chosen occupations.
   30         (b)Restoring civil rights helps felons who have completed
   31  their sentences to reintegrate into society. Having
   32  opportunities to fully participate in society reinforces their
   33  ties to their communities and may help to prevent recidivism.
   34         (c)Under current law, all persons convicted of felonies
   35  permanently lose many civil rights unless they receive
   36  discretionary executive clemency.
   37         (d)The restoration of civil rights through the clemency
   38  process is cumbersome, costly, and produces long delays. The
   39  clemency process imposes administrative burdens on the state and
   40  economic burdens on state taxpayers and should be reserved for
   41  extraordinary cases. Streamlining the restoration process for
   42  the majority of former felons will advance administrative
   43  efficiency, fiscal responsibility, fairness, and democracy.
   44         (2)PURPOSE.—The purposes of this act are to strengthen
   45  democratic institutions by enabling persons who have completed
   46  their felony sentences to become productive members of society
   47  and to streamline procedures for restoring civil rights.
   48         Section 3. Section 944.294, Florida Statutes, is created to
   49  read:
   50         944.294Restoration of civil rights.—
   51         (1)A person who has been convicted of a felony, other than
   52  a felony set forth in subsection (3), shall have his or her
   53  civil rights that are lost as a consequence of a conviction of
   54  that felony restored upon completion of his or her sentence.
   55  However, this subsection does not apply to restoration of the
   56  right to own, possess, or use firearms.
   57         (2)For purposes of this section, “completion of sentence”
   58  occurs when a person is released from incarceration upon
   59  expiration of his or her sentence and has completed all other
   60  terms and conditions of the sentence or subsequent supervision
   61  or, if the person has not been incarcerated for the felony
   62  offense, has completed all terms and conditions of supervision
   63  imposed on him or her.
   64         (3)(a)A person is ineligible for restoration of civil
   65  rights under this section if he or she was convicted of a crime
   66  defined by any of the following:
   67         1.Section 782.04, relating to murder.
   68         2.Section 782.07(3), relating to aggravated manslaughter
   69  of a child.
   70         3.Section 794.011, relating to sexual battery.
   71         4.Section 826.04, relating to incest.
   72         5.Section 827.071, relating to sexual performance by a
   73  child.
   74         6.Section 847.0145, relating to selling or buying minors,
   75  otherwise transferring or obtaining custody or control of
   76  minors, or offering to do the same.
   77         (b)A person is ineligible for restoration of civil rights
   78  under this section if he or she was convicted of treason or if
   79  his or her impeachment has resulted in conviction, as referred
   80  to in s. 8, Art. IV of the State Constitution.
   81         (4)This section does not impair the ability of a person
   82  convicted of a felony to apply for executive clemency under s.
   83  8, Art. IV of the State Constitution.
   84         (5)A court shall, before accepting a plea of guilty or
   85  nolo contendere to a felony without trial or, if a trial is
   86  held, before imposing sentence for a felony, notify the
   87  defendant as follows:
   88         (a)If the felony is described in subsection (3), that
   89  conviction will result in permanent loss of civil rights unless
   90  he or she receives executive clemency under s. 8, Art. IV of the
   91  State Constitution.
   92         (b)If the felony is not described in subsection (3), that
   93  conviction will result in loss of civil rights until the
   94  defendant completes his or her sentence and that civil rights
   95  will be restored thereafter, except for the right to own,
   96  possess, or use firearms.
   97         (6)The Secretary of State shall develop and implement a
   98  program to educate members of the public, attorneys, judges,
   99  election officials, and corrections officials, including parole
  100  and probation officers, about the requirements of this section,
  101  ensuring that:
  102         (a)Judges are informed of their obligation to notify
  103  criminal defendants of the potential loss and restoration of
  104  their civil rights as required by subsection (5).
  105         (b)Accurate and complete information about the civil
  106  rights of people who have been charged with or convicted of
  107  crimes, whether disenfranchising or not, is made available
  108  through a single publication to government officials and the
  109  public.
  110         Section 4. Subsection (1) of section 944.292, Florida
  111  Statutes, is amended to read:
  112         944.292 Suspension of civil rights.—
  113         (1) Upon conviction of a felony as defined in s. 10, Art. X
  114  of the State Constitution, the civil rights of the person
  115  convicted shall be suspended in Florida until such rights are
  116  restored by a full pardon, conditional pardon, or restoration of
  117  civil rights granted pursuant to s. 8, Art. IV of the State
  118  Constitution or by restoration of civil rights pursuant to s.
  119  944.294.
  120         Section 5. Paragraph (g) of subsection (2) of section
  121  944.705, Florida Statutes, is redesignated as paragraph (h), and
  122  a new paragraph (g) is added to that subsection to read:
  123         944.705 Release orientation program.—
  124         (2) The release orientation program instruction must
  125  include, but is not limited to:
  126         (g)Restoration of civil rights.
  127         Section 6. This act applies retroactively to all persons
  128  who are eligible for restoration of civil rights under the terms
  129  of the act, regardless of whether such persons were convicted or
  130  discharged from sentence before the effective date of this act.
  131         Section 7. This act shall take effect on the effective date
  132  of SJR 270 or another amendment to the State Constitution which
  133  authorizes, or removes impediments to, enactment of this act by
  134  the Legislature.