It has been said, that to error is human but to forgive is divine. In a country that asserts itself as one nation under God. It would seem reasonable to expect forgiveness for those who error. That is not the case in the State of Florida. For sometime a case known as Johnson v Bush has been making a journey through the state and federal courts. The journey ended when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept the case. The citizens of this great state can do for our fellow citizens what the State of Florida, and our courts refused to do.
The case is about the restoration of civil rights for convicted felons who have fulfilled their obligation to the people through the criminal justice system. The control of this state is the obligation of its citizens. The entire criminal justice system is the property of we the people. Citizens allow elected, and those appointed to state and federal office to hold office in order to conduct our business.
Here are the issues at controversy:
The Florida Constitution Article 6 section four reads. Disqualifications.- No person convicted of a felony, or adjudicated in this or any other state to be mentally incompetent shall be qualified to vote or hold office until restoration of civil rights or removal of disability.
The Plaintiff, Thomas Johnson, is a married man with a family living in Gainesville, Florida. Thomas is the executive director of a organization that runs a residential program for people released from prison. He has held that position since 1996. His program is very engaging. It not only provides housing for people released from prison but also provides mentors who help these people reintegrate back into society. The program also helps the residents find employment.
Experts in the field of criminal justice and other academic disciplines have written volumes on the absolute necessity for such programs. The longer people are incarcerated the more they need such programs the experts conclude. This writer concurs because he has worked in the criminal justice system, and did a tour as warden for a penal facility. Remember to error is human to forgive is Divine. A society that can not forgive is bound to see the errant person hopelessly trapped in the path of error. Forgiveness is packaged in programs directed by Thomas Johnson.
Thomas Johnson served eight months in prison on a felony conviction in 1992. He was released in November 1992. He has paid back society for his crime by serving a prison sentence.
Now it’s time for Florida to amend its constitution. Restoring voting rights to citizens who fulfill their debt to society for crimes committed. Encourage the Florida legislature to enact legislation to restore voting rights to people who have fulfilled their obligation to society.