IN THE NEWS
Committed to ending the disenfranchisement and discrimination against people with convictions.
IN THE NEWS
IN THE NEWS
FRRC is making a difference! Check out these news articles.
FRRC is making a difference! Check out these news articles.
August 2, 2021 – Kevin Scott was incarcerated in the Florida state prison system for around three and a half years, or, as he sees it: four birthdays, four Christmases and four of his daughter’s birthdays, too.
July 24, 2021 – In addition to raising money for the Equal Justice Initiative, Rolling Loud will host organizations like Headcount and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition on-site to educate festival goers about the importance of voting.
July 22, 2021 – Floridians opted in 2018 to restore the right to vote for most felons who’d done their time. But a Senate bill put some stipulations on that the following year. On Thursday, opening statements were heard in a case against Governor DeSantis because of that bill, with critics saying it denies people with felonies “the right to vote based purely on their low-income economic status.”
‘I thought I was untouchable:’ Business owner changes mind about vaccine after testing positive for COVID-19
Voting rights are being restored for millions of former felons (Returning Citizens). Many don't know it.
July 5, 2021 – Activist Desmond Meade calls it the “Juneteenth Effect.” States across the country have been expanding access to voting rights for formerly incarcerated persons – but most of them don’t know their voting rights have been restored.
June 20, 2021 – Some Republican-led states have increased the number of votes required to pass ballot initiatives, while others expanded the spread of required petitioner signatures across the state to even bring it to the ballot.
June 10, 2021 – It’s often described as a second chance. Former convicts being released from their prison sentence and stepping back into society.
June 10, 2021 – Over 5 million Americans have lost their right to vote because they’ve served time in prison. When Chandrea McNealy was charged with drug possession in 2006, at the age of 18, the long-term consequences of the felony never crossed her young mind.
June 2, 2021 – Sean Shaw says it’s not easy enough to vote in Florida. He’s about to put lots of time, effort and money where his mouth is. The former state representative and 2018 Democratic candidate for attorney general is embarking on a gargantuan effort to increase access to the ballot:
June 2, 2021 – Last Sunday, a big red bus arrived at a church in Gainesville, Florida, offering a different kind of revival. The church parking lot turned into a social event and mini Covid-19 vaccination center, but the event’s real purpose was summed up by the images of voting rights activists emblazoned across the side of the bus.
May 30, 2021 – A big red bus made a stop Saturday at Carver Park in Eustis, but no one was looking for plasma. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition instead is interested in helping people regain the lifeblood of democracy: the right to vote.
May 26, 2021 – People returning to society from incarceration with the inability to pay fines and fees that keep them from exercising their right to vote had an opportunity to discuss their situation and connect with members of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) Saturday at the Second Chance #The FreeTheVote Bus Tour held at Greater Bethel AME Church is southeast Gainesville.
May 25, 2021 – The “Free the Vote” bus tour is making a stop in Lake County. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, in partnership with several local organizations, is hosting an event focused on community reintegration from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Carver Park in Eustis.
May 20, 2021 – The state’s top investigating agency has cleared a leading statewide voting rights advocacy group of any wrongdoing in a probe sparked by top state Republicans just before the November 2020 election.
May 19, 2021 – Do you have a past criminal conviction in Florida keeping you from registering to vote and you owe fines and fees as part of your sentence you just can’t afford. Don’t despair because the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is working to remove financial barriers to voting and increase public safety.
May 19, 2021 – Last fall, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Congressman Matt Gaetz floated a conspiracy theory that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was trying to illegally buy Democratic votes in Florida.
May 18, 2021 – As a senator, he backed legislation that led to mass incarceration and long drug sentences. Now his administration is signaling that he could use clemency to address inequities.
May 8, 2021 – On April 27, Florida Memorial University (FMU) hosted a book signing event with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), in partnership with the Miami Dolphins and Lennar Foundation.
May 2, 2021 – John Legend addresses the Class of 2021: To love your neighbors “means being curious about their lives. Genuinely wanting the best for them. Investing in their success.”
May 2, 2021 – People here in southwest Florida are celebrating their right to vote after the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition paid their way into the polling place for the next election.
Florida Rights Restoration Coalition tour reaches Fort Myers to help former felons (Returning Citizens) register to vote
April 30, 2021 – The Free the Vote tour bus will be in Southwest Florida on Saturday to help former felons restore their rights to vote.
Desmond Meade Discusses Florida Voting Law Changes New Book "Let My People Vote" at the LITerary Lounge by Mocha
April 29, 2021 – Following the 2020 presidential election, Florida is considering changing how voters obtain and drop off mail ballots, who can collect ballots and ID requirements for voter registration changes.
April 25, 2021 – Democratic states are moving to expand the voting rights of felons (returning citizens) as the GOP seeks to tighten voting rules following a spate of losses in the 2020 election.
April 25, 2021 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s “Free The Vote” bus tour stopped in Kissimmee on Sunday, where it offered voter registration information, free COVID-19 testing, food, bounce houses, and more.
April 20, 2021 – For Desmond Meade, the right to vote is not simply a bedrock of American democracy. It is a personal struggle. He knows what it’s like to lose that right and he has spent the past 15 years working to help formerly incarcerated people in Florida fight to regain it.
April 20, 2021 – Florida prosecutes more children for felonies in the adult criminal justice system than any other state. The collateral consequences are long-lasting.
April 18, 2021 – Members of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition spent their Sunday sending several messages to the people in the Orlando Community. They encouraged people to protected themselves with PPE during the pandemic, while also encouraging felons to register to vote.
April 17, 2021 – A bus tour to promote voter registration made a stop in Riviera Beach on Saturday. The “Free the Vote” bus tour is traveling across the state to get new voters signed up.
April 17, 2021 – Dozens of people queued during the first hour of a Florida Rights Restoration Coalition event in Riviera Beach, Fla., on Saturday, April 17, 2021. A tour bus from Orlando brought a team to help area residents restore their voting rights at the Saturday event.
April 17, 2021 – Activists across Florida are condemning the Florida Legislature’s approval of House Bill 1, the so-called anti-riot bill that Gov. Ron DeSantis put forward last year. The bill won the final approval of the Florida Senate on Thursday and has become one of the most controversial items of the 2021 Florida legislative session.
A Conversation With Neil Volz About Restoring The Civil Rights Of People Who’ve Served Time In Prison
April 16, 2021 – Last November, Neil Volz was one of the more than 11 million Floridians to cast a vote in the presidential election. It was a significant moment for Volz. He’s a returning citizen: he served time in prison for a felony and was able to vote thanks to the passage of Amendment 4 two years earlier.
April 15, 2021 – Florida senators on Wednesday substantially scaled back a potential crackdown on voting by mail, including eliminating a proposed ban on drop boxes, but added requirements that could create headaches for elections supervisors and millions of voters.
April 9, 2021 – Policing and the push to improve it, is heavy on the minds of many, especially now. One major criticism is that law enforcement is heavy-handed and over-policing communities and people for non-violent crimes over and over.
Returning Citizens Can Register To Vote, Pay Fines And Fees At A “Free The Vote” Event In Orlando On Saturday
April 9, 2021 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is partnering with the Orlando Magic to help returning citizens register to vote. Staff from the bus tour will help people who’ve served prison sentences through the process of paying off fines and fees and registering to vote.
April 7, 2021 – Anyone who has filled out a university application may recall having to answer a question about their criminal history. Failure to answer these types of questions can delay application processing and a prospective student’s answer can result in a disciplinary hold or rejection.
Activists protest phosphate mining and treatment of jail inmates near Piney Point disaster in Manatee
April 6, 2021 – Activists in Manatee County gathered at the intersection of Moccasin Wallow Road and US 41 to demand the evacuation of Manatee County Jail during the Piney Point environmental disaster.
April 6, 2021 – Florida Department of Corrections facilities will receive 33,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management said Tuesday evening.
April 6, 2021 – Tracey Washington grew anxious when her son didn’t call her for Easter. Usually, her son, an inmate at Manatee County Jail, contacted her on holidays. “I hadn’t heard from him in a couple of days, and it was strange he didn’t call on Easter,” she said.
April 3, 2021 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition kicked off Second Chance Month with its latest statewide bus tour, starting in Jacksonville Saturday.
April 3, 2021 – On Saturday, April 3rd, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) is kicking off Second Chance Month in Jacksonville with its latest statewide bus tour. The first stop is the Charles Clark Community Center where FRRC will provide a fun, family-friendly opportunity for returning citizens to celebrate Easter.
April 2, 2021 – As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands, Florida is part of a shrinking number of states that has yet to vaccinate a single prison inmate.
Desmond Meade is on a mission to restore the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people in Florida
March 31, 2021 – Activist and Florida Rights Restoration Coalition president is doing the work to make sure his state’s disenfranchised due to felony convictions, regain their power.
March 30, 2021 – In 2018 almost 65% of Florida voters cast ballots in support of Amendment 4 to the state constitution, the ballot initiative to restore voting rights to citizens who’d been convicted of certain felonies after they had completed their sentences. Its successful passage restored voting rights to more than 1.4 million Floridians — at least that’s what its authors intended.
March 22, 2021 – The Florida Cabinet voted this month to revamp the restrictive rules on restoring civil rights for people with felony conviction that were put in place by former Gov. Rick Scott 10 years ago.
March 20, 2021 – The Florida Cabinet recently revamped how people with felony convictions can get their civil rights restored. That’s not just for voting but for things like serving in elected office and sitting on a jury.
March 18, 2021 – After the election, I found myself reflecting on some of the final words from the civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis. “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society,” he wrote in an essay he asked The New York Times to publish the day of his funeral last July. “You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”
March 16, 2021 – Desmond Meade has won international acclaim for his voting-rights advocacy and helped thousands of convicted felons like him be able to cast ballots in Florida. But the 53-year-old husband and father hasn’t redeemed himself enough for Gov. Ron DeSantis to grant a pardon.
March 16, 2021 – We spoke to voting rights activist, Desmond Meade. He is Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and has been a leading advocate to restore voting rights for more than a million Florida residents with a prior felony conviction. He spoke to us about his new book, Let My People Vote.
Florida’s Clemency Board didn’t actually do much to help felons (returning citizens) regain the right to vote
March 16, 2021 – Florida’s Board of Executive Clemency seemed to advance major reforms last week regarding how most people who have served felony sentences can regain their civil rights. But what really happened? The news, it appears, is less than it seemed.
March 11, 2021 – For the past decade, felons (returning citizens) in Florida have had to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before becoming eligible for civil rights restoration. But, at a Clemency Board meeting Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet, acting as the Board of Executive Clemency, did away with the waiting period.
March 11, 2021 – On Wednesday, Florida’s Executive Clemency Board enacted substantive changes to the state’s clemency process for the first time in more than a decade. These bipartisan reforms will impact hundreds of thousands of lives and represent a win-win-win for the government, taxpayers and individuals and communities throughout Florida.
March 11, 2021 – The Florida clemency board approved changes proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to previous rules that also removed the five-to-seven-year period felons (returning citizens) are required to wait after applying to have these rights restored.
March 10, 2021 – Desmond Meade has won international acclaim for his voting-rights advocacy and helped thousands of convicted felons (returning citizens) like him be able to cast ballots in Florida.
March 10, 2021 – There were sweeping changes to the state’s clemency process approved Wednesday. Floridians with past felony convictions will now have an easier time getting their rights back. It reverses a decade-long policy of delay.
March 10, 2021 – In Florida, hundreds of thousands of felons (returning citizens) who have completed their sentences will now be able to serve on juries and even run for public office. New rules adopted today by Florida’s governor and Cabinet follow an amendment adopted in 2018 – an amendment that allows felons (returning citizens) to vote. NPR’s Greg Allen has more.
March 9, 2021 – The Florida Clemency Board voted Wednesday to automatically restore most civil rights stripped from felons (returning citizens) once they have completed their sentences, including court-ordered financial obligations.
March 9, 2021 – Gov. Ron DeSantis blocked a pardon on Wednesday for Desmond Meade, who led the campaign behind Florida’s voting-rights restoration ballot initiative in 2018, citing Meade’s dishonorable discharge from the military.
DeSantis, Clemency Board remove 5-year waiting period to restore civil rights to felons (returning citizens)
March 9, 2021 – Governor Ron DeSantis and the Clemency Board removed the minimum five-year waiting period for felons to apply to have civil rights restored, including the right to vote.
March 9, 2021 – Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing sweeping changes to the state’s clemency process by doing away with a minimum five-year wait before felons (returning citizens) can seek to have their civil rights, including the right to vote, restored.
March 9, 2021 – President Joe Biden signed an executive order Sunday directing federal agencies to develop a plan to increase voter registration and participation across the United States.
March 8, 2021 – A Republican senator has proposed a bill to reinstate gun rights to nonviolent felons (returning citizens) who have completed their sentences.
March 7, 2021 – Today’s Bloody Sunday anniversary serves as a reminder of the importance of democracy, the value of each person’s voice, and work that still needs to be done to live up to the ideals outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
March 5, 2021 – “No matter what you face in life, what position you’re in, we all have some type of obstacle and adversity we go through,” Meade said. “We all make mistakes but never say it’s impossible. Impossible really means I’m possible. There’s nothing you can’t overcome.”
March 5, 2021 – Today I want to talk about a wildly unpopular idea — vaccinating inmates. I know this proposal will trigger a lot of people. So let’s go ahead and get the screaming out of the way.
March 3, 2021 – In 2018 almost 65% of Florida voters cast ballots in support of Amendment 4 to the state constitution, the ballot initiative to restore voting rights to citizens who’d been convicted of certain felonies after they had completed their sentences.
March 3, 2021 – President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Desmond Meade has spent the last 20 years working his way from homelessness in Miami to the forefront of a human rights movement that pushed Amendment 4 into succession. Photo courtesy of Desmond Meade.
March 2, 2021 – Of all the moments of the 2019–20 NBA season — the one with Rudy Gobert touching all the mics and the pandemic and the bubble and another Lakers championship — the most lasting one, the most important one, came when the Milwaukee Bucks, in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, elected unanimously not to play their playoff game against the Orlando Magic in order to call for justice for Blake and for the officers to “be held accountable.”
February 28, 2021 – Marquis McKenzie, 30, said he’s living proof that anyone can overcome past mistakes and that second chances are real. The father of three is now a successful business owner and nonprofit founder, who also advocates for returning citizens who once made mistakes like he did.
February 27, 2021 – Desmond Meade received the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award during the annual Inns of Court event held virtually on Feb. 22, 2021. The prestigious Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding contributions to public service, the justice system, and the community.
February 26, 2021 – Amendment two gives everyone making minimum wage in Florida the right to earn $15 an hour by 2026. The voter-approved constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage in Florida is being crafted into law, in the form of a bill working through the state legislature. But some lawmakers are pushing efforts to exclude some from that pay raise.
February 25, 2021 – Esu Ma’at, the Orlando Magic’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, asked the million dollar question to an esteemed panel during the fourth installment of the Magic’s Black History Month virtual town hall series, which addressed and analyzed social justice issues.
February 18, 2021 – More Americans voted last year — both as a share of the eligible population and in raw numbers — than in any presidential election since 1900, when the “eligible population” looked quite different.
February 18, 2021 – As part of its ongoing mission to invest $100 million in organizations focused on achieving social justice, the Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund (WMG/BFF SJF) today announced its initial six grant recipients: Black Cultural Archives, Black Futures Lab, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Howard University, REFORM Alliance and Rhythm & Blues Foundation.
February 17, 2021 – The president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition will be honored with an award during the Feb. 22 virtual event.
February 13, 2021 – Last September, Desmond Meade — the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to humanizing our reentry system — had his petition for a pardon and full rights restoration denied by the Office of Executive Clemency.
February 9, 2021 – A bill was recently introduced in the state Legislature by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) that proposes to pay people with past felony convictions less than the minimum wage. We believe this proposal is fundamentally flawed and should be defeated. We also believe there is a better way to support local businesses and ensure that people with past convictions, or returning citizens (as we prefer to call ourselves), can find and keep a job.
February 8, 2021 – Democrats are pushing an important set of voting reforms, from expanding dropboxes to helping ex-felons (returning citizens) vote. They’re convinced it will help them at the polls. That’s hardly certain.
February 8, 2021 – Nearly 160 million people in the United States voted in the 2020 presidential election, the most ever in our nation’s history. One individual in particular who helped increase voter turnout, not just in 2020 but the last couple years as well, was Desmond Meade, a voting rights activist and the executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC).
February 3, 2021 – The Orlando Magic continue to develop new and innovative ways to enhance their unwavering commitment to pursuing social justice and striving for meaningful and peaceful change.
February 2, 2021 – Orange County mayor Jerry Demings said once more coronavirus vaccines become available it will be distributed more widely, including to at-risk inmates in the county jail.
January 30, 2021 – Marcus Bullock, the founder and CEO of Flikshop, wants to be the poster child for second chances.
January 29, 2021 – Proposed legislation in Tallahassee would allow employers to pay “hard to hire” individuals less than the rising minimum wage.
January 28, 2021 – Florida governor Ron DeSantis has made it a priority to vaccinate the state’s elderly population. Along with frontline healthcare workers, they’ve been first in line for COVID-19 vaccines. But there’s another population that’s uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19: people who are behind bars.
January 28, 2021 – Last November, 61% of Florida voters approved an amendment to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour beginning this September, with a one dollar per year raise to $15 in 2026. Republican state senator Jeff Brandes has filed a measure to put a new Amendment on the ballot next year that would allow employers to pay some workers less than minimum wage.
Vaccinate Florida’s incarcerated and prison staff for COVID-19. It’s about public safety, not politics.
January 25, 2021 – In October, Global Fellow Desmond Meade cast his first-ever ballot in a presidential election. He was 53. Because of his felony record, he—along with 1.4 million Floridians in his situation—had been banned from voting for life.
January 18, 2020 – In recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a special episode of the FDACS Podcast featuring Desmond Meade.
January 15, 2021 – In 2005, Desmond Meade was homeless, addicted to drugs, and feeling suicidal. Then he turned his life around. He checked himself into rehab. He pursued his education, ultimately graduating from Florida International University College of Law.
January 8, 2021 – In October, Global Fellow Desmond Meade cast his first-ever ballot in a presidential election. He was 53. Because of his felony record, he—along with 1.4 million Floridians in his situation—had been banned from voting for life.
January 5, 2021 – The Miami Dolphins Social Impact Committee is this year’s winner of the Nat Moore Community Service Award. The group donated $100,000 to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Fines and Fees program, which assists returning citizens who have outstanding fees to complete their sentences and become eligible to vote.
January 5, 2021 – “An interesting book I just finished reading and recommend is ‘Let My People Vote’ by Desmond Meade. He is a former felon (current returning citizen) who experienced homelessness, but he had this dream to make sure he and other people who served time could vote once they paid their debt to society.”
December 30, 2020 – In the run-up to the election in November, there was a pervasive belief that the fate of the nation could hinge on Florida because of its 2018 passage of Amendment 4, which reversed a permanent voting ban for 1.4 million Floridians with felony records.
December 27, 2020 – Mountainous court fines looming over two dozen Alachua County residents were recently cleared — freeing the way for them to vote, hold onto their driver’s licenses and as an added bonus, propping up judicial system services.
As Holidays Approach, Fla. Nonprofit Pays Fines, Fees Of 181 Ex-Felons (returning citizens) Throughout State
December 22, 2020 – Ahead of the holidays, a Florida nonprofit has paid $327,000 to clear the fines and fees of 181 ex-felons (returning citizens) in 17 counties throughout the state.
December 11, 2020 – The effects of mass incarceration in this U.S. are felt by many more people than those convicted of crimes. Student Reporting Labs, our journalism training program, explores how the criminal justice system can also create far-reaching obstacles for kids and families.
‘All In: The Fight for Democracy’ co-director Lisa Cortes: Voter suppression is a ‘monster’ that ‘resurfaces’
November 30, 2020 – Perhaps no documentary is more timely — purposefully — this year than “All In: The Fight for Democracy.”
November 26, 2020 – Going back to his first stint with the Orlando Magic when he was an assistant coach and now again as the team’s head coach, Steve Clifford has always gone the extra mile to lift up the people of Central Florida.
Despite Confusion, Thousands Of Former Florida Felons (returning citizens) Voted Successfully
November 25, 2020 – Voting-rights advocates say they’re working to keep the momentum going, registering Floridians with felony convictions so they can vote in future elections.
Nicholas Pinnock willing to break the law to prove that he's innocent - and he explains why
November 18, 2020 – Isaac Wright Jr. served seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In 1991, he was sentenced to life in prison for fabricated drug charges. But he didn’t allow that low blow in life to knock him out for good.
After California restores felon (returning citizen) voting rights, activists see growing national trend
November 13, 2020 – A national movement continues across the country to let felons (returning citizens) — many who have completed their sentences and ended their parole — return to the voting booth.
November 13, 2020 – Florida received high marks in dealing with the 2020 election but the state’s system for tracking ex-felons (returning citizens) and their eligibility to vote is still being criticized by some.
November 13, 2020 – In Florida, tens of thousands of newly eligible voters who were previously disenfranchised due to their criminal records turned out to the polls for the 2020 election.
November 13, 2020 – Nearly 900,000. According to a new report, that’s how many Floridians who have completed all terms of incarceration and supervision but couldn’t vote this year because an undemocratic poll tax crafted by Gov. Ron DeSantis’and the Legislature’s GOP majority.
November 11, 2020 – Green Thumb Industries Inc., a leading national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and owner of Rise™ retail stores, today announced it will open Rise Kendall, its 50th retail location, on November 18. Profits from the first day of sales will be donated to Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC)
November 11, 2020 – Voter suppression has tarnished election processes in the United States for decades. Many were concerned that the 2020 election would be no different. In recent years, the most notorious cases of voter suppression centered around the southern states of Florida and the 2020 election superstar, Georgia.
November 10, 2020 – Last week, many were bracing for a razor-thin election in Florida like the ones in 2018 and 2000. Some people feared that the eligibility of Florida’s newly enfranchised felons (returning citizens) could be called into question.
November 9, 2020 – Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday that Miami Heat managing general partner Micky Arison will join the fledging NBA Social Justice Coalition Board. The group also includes representatives from the league’s players and coaches.
Florida’s new felon (returning citizen) voters didn’t decide Tuesday’s election. Advocates are happy about that.
November 6 , 2020 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition says that it estimates 50,000 people with felony convictions voted in the general election.