Felons Voting

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Florida's top legislative leaders are joining a group of lawmakers who say they will support a bill requiring county jails to help felons regain their civil rights once they have served their sentences.

If the changes become law, they would close a loophole that has kept an estimated 50,000 felons from regaining their civil rights in recent years, including the right to vote, serve on a jury or hold public office.

The current law requires the Department of Corrections to assist felons released from state prison or supervision with the restoration of their rights. Their names are automatically forwarded to the Florida Clemency Board for consideration.

But that law ignores felons released from dozens of local jails statewide.

Any proposal would be considered by the Legislature in the 2005 session that begins in March.

Senate President Tom Lee, House Speaker Allan Bense and State Senator Frederica Wilson are all backing the bill.