Dear Members and Advocates,

No matter what side of the political fence you fall on or which cable news network you watch, this past week’s news has been riveting. A week ago, as I was awaiting the sentence of Bill Cosby, I couldn’t help but feel sad that “America’s Dad” had so disappointed us. I felt sad for the victim of his crime and his other alleged victims. But I also felt sad for those of my generation who grew up learning life lessons from Dr. Huxtable on The Cosby Show. Was this former role model a ‘wolf in sheep’s’ clothing or were his crimes aberrant behavior in an otherwise accomplished life? Can we still appreciate his creative talents and benefit from his philanthropy, while at the same time rejecting his misdeeds?

In between updates on the status of Cosby’s sentencing hearing, the news switched back to the nomination hearings of Brett Kavanaugh. Specifically, our nation’s Supreme Court nominee had been accused by three women of committing sexual assaults thirty years ago. Since that time, he’s gone on to graduate at the top of his class from prestigious Ivy League schools, clerked for other justices and become a respected Federal District Court Judge. Should he be proven to have committed the assaults or even if it is only proven that his character as a hard-partying teenager wasn’t “judge-like”. Can we still appreciate his academic and legal accomplishments, while at the same time overlooking his misdeeds?

Then – to make the news week more riveting, in between updates on Kavanaugh, the news switched to the latest updates on Donald Trump, another successful person accused of sexual assault! Despite so many allegations and some pretty incriminating audio recordings, he became President of the United States.

As I watched one of our most respected actors, the nominee for our highest court and the ‘leader of the free world’ on the news, I couldn’t stop thinking “these men are all accused sex offenders. I’m in great company!” Part of me was very angry that I have to pay the price for my wrongdoing; prison, living under a debilitating stigma, chronic underemployment and housing instability, while these others had not (yet). But another part of me was hopeful. As I watch the senate debate I’m hearing some say, “this was 35 years ago, but look at all his accomplishments since. Are we going to disqualify him for something he did so long ago?” Even discussions among friends; “he might be a [insert your choice: chauvinist, racist, rapist], but have you seen the stock market lately!?!?”

Is it possible that society might be able to balance the good and the bad in one’s life and accept whichever side the scale tips to? Will the overwhelming volume of good deeds and accomplishments in my life overshadow the one mistake I made 15 years ago? What is expected of me to earn redemption and will I ever be able to rejoin society?

That’s one question voters in Florida will be answering in November when they vote on Amendment 4. Except, as with many other parts of my existence, it won’t apply to me! Amendment 4 will restore the voting rights of disenfranchised felons in Florida after they have completed their sentence… except those convicted of murder or sex offenses. Why? What is it about voting that presents any justifiable public safety concern? Why am I not entitled to have my say in society, while drug dealers, wife beaters, tax cheats, armed robbers and others can?

Please join us for our monthly member call to discuss Amendment 4. While it’s too late to change the ballot measure, it’s not too late to use the opportunity to point out the hypocrisy, educate the public and open a dialogue that will cause the public to question, ‘why is it that we don’t give these people a second chance’?


The Florida Action Committee




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