Florida’s Board of Executive Clemency, comprised of the four members of the Cabinet, met telephonically today to consider new clemency rules changes. During that meeting, Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Friedoffered the following comments regarding the proposed rule change.
Below are the Commissioner’s remarks on the call as prepared for delivery:
“After a year in office, I am glad to finally see some bipartisan movement on the issue of Restoration of Civil Rights – namely, the right to vote.
This rule revision is a good first step, but a very small step, only making it easier to apply for Restoration of Civil Rights – and only applying to citizens that require a Board hearing by rule. That rule will have no effect on the current backlog of 10,000 pending RCR applications.
However, now that Hand v. DeSantis is closed in the courts, there is no reason – legal or otherwise – we cannot begin to grant RCR to all applicants who are eligible for RCR without a hearing. Failing to also remove the restitution requirement for those applicants is counterintuitive. As of January 1, there are 620 applicants eligible for RCR without a hearing. Here and now, I vote to grant RCR to all 620 of those eligible applicants.
I vote to grant the proposed change to Rule 5 and Rule 10 removing the restitution requirement for RCR applicants that require a hearing under the current rules. However, the same requirement should be removed from Rule 9 as well, for applicants that do not require a hearing. This singular rule change is too little, too late.
Again, I call on my fellow Clemency Board members to make timely and truly meaningful changes to the rules, especially the seven year waiting period.”
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 10,000 clemency applicants for restoration of civil rights.