Today, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet and Clemency Board, offered the following statement regarding today’s meeting of the Clemency Board:
“Florida’s broken Clemency system is restrictive, arbitrary, and designed to fail our citizens seeking a fresh start. It’s an absolute mockery that in nearly two years under Governor DeSantis, only 30 Floridians have earned back their rights, compared to 234,000 under his three predecessors. Just today, justice wasn’t approved for Desmond Meade, a Floridian whose redemption should be an example to us all – proving that we judge people only by their worst days. As I’ve said before, we can fix this. We can change our Clemency rules to automatically restore rights for those who serve their time and pay their dues, as under then-Governor Crist. We can clear the backlog of 11,000 Floridians waiting for a hearing, and the more than 850 eligible today for rights restoration without a hearing. We can drop the endless appeals of Amendment 4 at taxpayer expense. If restoring and protecting Floridians’ constitutional rights were a priority for this Governor, it would happen – but it’s not, so it won’t. And that’s a damn shame.”
Background: Commissioner Fried has been a strong proponent of reforming Florida’s clemency rules, called “crushingly restrictive” and growing harder. She has repeatedly called for the adoption of new clemency rules automatically restoring civil and voting rights, through letters to her Clemency Board colleagues and town hall meetings across the state, and for clearing the backlog of 11,000 clemency applicants for Restoration of Civil Rights. Fried has called multiple times on the Governor to grant Restoration of Civil Rights to the more than 850 applicants eligible without a hearing, and has also suggested a return to clemency rules adopted under former Governor Crist in 2007 which restored civil rights to non-violent ex-felons who served their time, paid restitution to victims, and did not have further pending criminal charges.
Voting Rights Restoration: Under Governor DeSantis, just 30 Floridians have had their voting rights restored; more than 234,000 Floridians were granted back voting rights under DeSantis’ predecessors Governors Crist (155,000), Bush (76,000) and Scott (3,000).