Every weekday, Clark Porter, a tall man with a sturdy build, walks into the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis to work with tough ex-offenders. On the outside, he wears a suit and tie. But on the inside, he has more in common with the former felons than most.
Back in 1986, a skinny 17-year-old Porter went on trial there as an adult for robbing a post office at gunpoint. His sentence: 35 years.
Across the nation, the number of people who have lost the right to vote because of a felony conviction has grown dramatically in the past three decades. Currently, almost 6 million people don't have that right — and about 1.5 million of them live in Florida.
While some states are making it easier for felons to get their voting rights back, Florida has taken the opposite approach — and the path for former convicts trying to get those rights back is often an arduous one.