At last, our long national nightmare is over: the long deceased Jim Morrison will no longer have a record for drunkenly dangling his dong at a Miami concert. But while Morrison's pardon -- which should be made official at 9 a.m. -- closes a sordid footnote in rock history, some local bands are asking Gov. Charlie Crist to remember the tens of thousands of living Floridians who've been waiting years for purely procedural pardons.
Update: Congrats to Jim Morrison and his penis! The Clemency Board has voted unanimously to grant his pardon.
See, it turns out that Crist's Clemency Board has been so busy arguing over whether to clear Morrison's name that its pending cases have doubled to more than 97,000 in three years. Most of those waiting are Floridians with non-violent felonies whose civil rights are supposed to be automatically restored after their sentences.
In a letter drafted by the ACLU and signed on by ten local bands this morning -- including Awesome New Republic and Buzz Killingtons -- Crist is urged to remember the ordinary Joes who are getting screwed over by a red-tape laden clemency process.
"By celebrating one of our dead lyrical heroes with a pardon, it ignores hundreds of thousands of disfranchised Floridians who have been banned from voting, sitting on a jury, and running for office," the letter says. "The civil rights restoration process has been too complicated, too sluggish and too silent on the rights of Floridians with a felony conviction."
Back in 2007, in order to alleviate a pardon system weighed down by a huge number of requests and a tiny staff, the Clemency Board pledged to grant "automatic approval" to Level 1, non-violent felons who've finished their court mandated sentences, says Muhammed Malik, a racial justice and voting rights specialist with the ACLU of Florida.
Yet the board has never made good on the pledge, Malik says. The ACLU sent a similar letter to Crist on December 3 urging changes to the clemency process.
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As for Morrison, with a pardon pending, his bandmates continue to insist he never unleashed the beast onstage.
"It never actually happened. It was mass hypnosis," Ray Manzarek, the band's keyboardist, tells the Washington Post this morning.
Here are the local bands who have signed on to the new letter to Crist, Malik says: Jesse Jackson, Awesome New Republic (ANR), The Plains, Buzz Killingtons, Animal Tropical, Soul Satern 6, Down Home Southernaires, Loyalty.Prophet, Darling What's Going On?, Dropping Jupiter.