TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Voters will decide in November whether felons' voting rights should be automatically restored after they've been released.
As WTXL ABC 27' s Valerie Mills shows us, a recent study shows voting 'yes' to "Amendment 4" could save taxpayers millions of dollars.
"As a returning ex-felon, I am still without the privilege, the right of the opportunity to vote," said Pastor Gregory James of Life Church International Center.
A new study shows allowing men and women who have served their time, like James, to vote will benefit Florida's economy.
A study done by the Washington Economics Group says passing Amendment 4 would reduce court and prison costs.
"Amendment 4 says, we no longer want men and women who are coming back from doing time, who have paid their debt to society, to go before a clemency board and be tried all over again," James said.
As of 2018, Florida is one of four states where convicted felons do not regain the right to vote until a board restores the person's voting rights.
In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott implemented a five-year waiting period for felons to apply for clemency.
WEG states, before that move, only 12 percent of those who had their rights restored went back to prison. Since 2011, that number has jumped to 25 percent.
"By every 10 thousand, 15, 20, 30 thousand prisoners we can lower, those are people that are not going to be in crime colleges, said Dominic M. Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch. "These are ways that people learn how to commit crimes more seriously."
If amendment 4 is passed, economists calculated saving $365 million across the state. Sixty percent of that comes from court and prison costs. The rest is projected earnings and economic activity from ex-felons who've gone straight.
The study says, each year this amendment would support close to 3, 800 jobs, allowing ex-felons to earn an income and benefit Florida's economy.
"Amendment 4 restores opportunity," James said. "Amendment 4 restores life to a man or woman who have dreamed of having all their rights restored."