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Commissioner Fried Says Clemency Process Harder Than Before

Nikki Fried is dressed in a business suit clutching a podium with microphones resting close to her.
Ryan Dailey

Florida held a clemency board meeting Wednesday for 70 of the 13,000 felons seeking to have their rights restored. Commissioner Nikki Fried is a member of the board and says the process has gotten worse since being ruled unconstitutional in 2018.

In the 2018 case, the entire clemency process was under question,  then-Governor Scott appealed the ruling and was granted a stay. A new opinion has not yet been released. 

The process requires felons to submit a request and plead for a pardon from the Governor and Cabinet.But it’s the Governor who wields the most power, without his approval, no one can receive their rights.

Fried says Governor Ron DeSantis has made it even more difficult.

“There’s a condition that the Governor has added and that’s that if there’s somebody that has outstanding fines and fees, just like they did in the legislation, the governor makes it a condition to receive a pardon and receive your rights back," explains Fried.

Fried says the process is still moving slowly. Last year Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment restoring the right to vote to most felons. But they still have to get other rights restored by the clemency board.

Under former Governor Rick Scott roughly 3,000 felons had their rights restored. Before him, Governor Charlie Crist granted clemency to 155,000 felons in a single term. Fried worries it could be getting worse with DeSantis.

"Unfortunately under the current administration we’ve only done 20, 20 restoring of civil rights. Twenty and it’s almost been a year," said Fried.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.