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Civil Rights Could Be Coming Back to Former Felons

Four times a year, hundreds of people crowd into the clemency meetings, their faces filled with apprehension, their criminal history files piled high in the front of the room.

"One of the things that i want to do is clear our families good name."

Michael Bruno pulled a gun outside an Orlando area pizzeria in the mid '90s; he did three years in prison and went on to chiropractic school.

Michael brought his mother to tell the governor he was a good guy. It took six years for Michael to weave the cumbersome process to get his rights back.

"We all moan about certain things but then people never get up and cast their vote when they can. So many people don’t use their right and that was one of the things I really missed."

Thousands more are caught in a bureaucratic log jam. Jeb Bush and the clemency board members finally did what they had been asked to do for a decade, make the process easier.

From now on, most non-violent offenders will have their rights back in less than a year, and everyone after 15 years.

"The change still isn’t the full automatic restoration of rights for everyone, but advocates say it’s a big step forward."

So for many who have paid their dues, this change will be a welcome Christmas present.


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