Citing job denials from the Florida Department of Corrections and the military, a resident approached Marion County Commissioners about releasing the costs associated with her incarceration during Tuesday’s board meeting.
Myoshi Wilson was originally arrested on petit theft charges in 2012. In 2014, she was arrested on possession of under 20 grams of marijuana and after receiving 6 months of probation, she was arrested once more that fall after violating the terms of her probation.
Wilson says that in the five years that have followed, her attempts at joining the armed forces have been denied on account of the lien associated with her name.
“I have made bad decisions in my life. Everybody makes mistakes. At the time that I made the mistakes, I didn’t know the impact that it would have on my future. I’ve been trying to go into [the air force], but the service denied me because of the lien,” said Wilson.
In addition, she suggested that the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) indicated via email that they could not consider her application as a result of the lien.
“Everything is paid on both cases but the lien. I also tried to get a job to be a correctional officer and they denied me because of this lien,” added Wilson.
Commissioner Carl Zalak questioned the validity of Wilson’s claims, stating he would like to see proof from a military recruiter to confirm the denial.
“Do you have a letter stating that you were denied because of this reason from the military? I haven’t heard that [a lien] is a reason, but it may be,” questioned Zalak.
In addition, Commissioner Kathy Bryant questioned Wilson as to why she had not made contributions to the lien over the past five years.
“You’ve known about this since 2014 and you haven’t even attempted to make a minimal payment on it. You could have been paying $20 a month. These are hard costs that it costs the citizens of this county, and I understand that you’re trying to do better and all that, and I applaud you for all of that. But at some point you have to be accountable for taking some initiative to take care of this,” said Bryant.
Wilson indicated that if she had the money to pay for the lien, she would have contributed any amount over that time.
“She doesn’t have to get a job in the government sector. If she gets a job in the private sector, unless it’s a level 2 background check, I believe, they’re probably not going to need this,” added Zalak.
“If this helps her get to the next level, that’s fine, but if it doesn’t, if it just takes this off, what does that do? With all do respect, ma’am, there’s hundreds of thousands of people that owe us money. I don’t mind giving you a chance, but we need something on our side to demonstrate that it’s going to help you get to the next step,” clarified Zalak.
Ultimately, the board decided to table the issue until Wilson could produce a document from either the military or the FDOC to confirm that the denials were on account of the lien.
County Attorney Matthew G. Minter closed by adding that because of the recent change in Florida to restore voting rights to felons, he was uncertain whether or not payment of incarceration costs and civil restitution liens would be included as part of the requirement for a felon to have their civil rights reinstated.
“This may result in an influx of requests to the board for the release of these liens, not just for purposes of what we have before us today, but for purposes of restoration of their civil rights,” said Minter.