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Florida sheriffs support Pam Bondi's stance on civil rights restoration

Attorney General Pam Bondi last week proposed making felons wait five years before they can apply for rights restoration. That's a concept the Florida Sheriffs Association likes.

In a statement released Wednesday, FSA president Harrell Reid said the waiting period would allow more time to determine if felons have changed their ways and are in fact law-abiding citizens.

"We appreciate that she is seeking to place the burden of restoring rights on the felon, not on the government," Reid said.

Bondi's proposal, set to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, would reverse a major change that took place in April 2007 at the urging of former Gov. Charlie Crist, who said the civil rights restoration process in Florida was too cumbersome and cruel to many ex-offenders.

Crist's changes streamlined the restoration process to allow tens of thousands of felons to regain their right to vote, sit on a jury and obtain various state licenses without having to undergo a lengthy review and hearing process. Nonviolent criminals are eligible to get their rights restored without hearings if they have completed their sentences and pay restitution if required. Violent criminals, sex offenders and others are still required to wait years before their petitions were considered.