IN THE NEWS

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The Future of Amendment 4 Moves to Appeals Court

July 3, 2020 – This weekend, Americans celebrate the country’s birthday—and the rights and freedoms many of us often take for granted—including the right to vote.

Voting In The Sunshine State

July 3, 2020 – On this week’s program, we took a closer look at voting in Florida and how the election might play out here this fall. 

Felons’ voting rights in limbo again after federal appeals court ruling

July 3, 2020 – It remains unclear if hundreds of thousands of Floridians who served their time for non-violent crimes will be able to vote this fall. 

Federal appeals court intervenes in Amendment 4 fight, casting doubt on felon re-enfranchisement

July 2, 2020 – A federal appeals court threw a bomb into preparations for Florida’s August primary and November general election this week when it blocked a lower court order that would have allowed thousands of former felons to participate in the voting.

Steve Clifford Sees Season Restart as Opportunity for NBA to Influence Social Change

June 30, 2020 – Clifford recently took part in a Zoom call with social justice activist Bryan Stevenson, leaders of the Obama Foundation and Desmond Meade, the Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition who led a successful campaign to restore the voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians with prior felony convictions.

Clifford discusses social justice, NBA ‘re-start’ as bubble plans creep closer

June 30, 2020 – “Last week, Desmond Meade – who I’m sure many of you know from Florida Rights Restoration Coalition – spoke to our group (our players, basketball operations, etc.) and he zeroed in on voting (the importance of voting), which speaks directly to the question that I think most of us have at this time – which is,what can I do to help? Voting is obviously a very important part of that for everybody.”

The Fight To Vote Part 2: History Of Florida's Voter Disenfranchisement

June 30, 2020 – Opponents of the Florida law requiring felons to repay fines, fees and restitution have argued from the start that it’s a poll tax, something banned by the U.S. Constitution. That argument has its roots in the 24th amendment which stopped governments from charging people to vote.

The Fight To Vote Part 1: Florida Felons Battle For Re-Enfranchisement

June 29, 2020 – Voter registration advocates are rushing to register new voters in the run-up to the August primary and November presidential election. In Florida, the effort has been slowed as the state fights a lawsuit over whether felons have to repay fines and fees before they can vote.

Omar Epps Takes On Prisons as For-Profit Businesses in ‘Unbreaking America: Justice for Sale’

June 24, 2020 – Omar Epps’ new short film “Unbreaking America: Justice for Sale” has caught the attention of stars like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lawrence for its raw look at prison corruption. In the film, Epps and voting rights activist Desmond Meade are demanding change to the criminal justice system in America.

New film argues political corruption prevents criminal justice reform

June 19, 2020 – Current events have turned everyone’s attention to the nation’s criminal justice system. Most Americans agree that the system is broken. Yet, in a new “Unbreaking America” film, RepresentUs makes the case that the criminal justice system remains broken because the broken U.S. political system keeps it that way.

Jennifer Lawrence joins Twitter to demand justice for Breonna Taylor: ‘We must not allow the erasure of Black women'

June 18, 2020 – Jennifer Lawrence has joined Twitter this week — which she formerly vowed to never do — for a good cause: demanding racial justice.

Cynics Are Wrong: Protests Can Change the World

June 18, 2020 – Desmond Meade pumped his fist in the air and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” blasted from the speakers. Many of the former felons — liberal and conservative, black and white, radical reformers and deplorables alike — who packed this Orlando hotel conference room mouthed the words along with him.

Sheriff candidates go head-to-head in online forum

June 16, 2020 – The temperature is heating up, and so is the race for Alachua County Sheriff. Current Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell and Florida State Rep. Clovis Watson Jr. are both vying to be the county’s sheriff and will go head-to-head in the upcoming Aug. 18 primary election.

Federal judge denies state’s request to put felons voting rights ruling on hold

June 16, 2020 – Could hundreds of thousands of former felons in Florida who are now eligible to vote tip the scale in the 2020 presidential election?

As protests continue in Tampa and St. Pete, voting becomes a focus

June 14, 2020 – Nebula Jackson, 24 of the Florida restoration rights coalition talked with the crowd about registering to vote. A group of about 100 gathered in downtown Tampa to protest against racism and police brutality on Sunday, June 14, 2020 in Tampa.

Orlando Ride for Justice Calls for Reform, Leadership Change

June 13, 2020 – As people continue to hit the streets and call for change across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, motorcyclists in Orlando are joining in with a Ride For Justice. 

Protests against racism, police violence continue throughout Central Florida as Zimmerman acquittal anniversary looms

June 13, 2020 – Thousands gathered in cities and towns across around Central Florida to protest police violence following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, including hundreds in Sanford, often considered the birthplace of the Black Lives Matter movement.

‘We’re throttling for change:’ Motorcycle ride calls for racial justice

June 13, 2020 – A large group of motorcyclists hit the road Saturday morning calling for change and to protest police brutality. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and Central Florida Motorcycle Council held the “Ride for Racial Justice.”

Hundreds of motorcyclists ride through Orlando in protest against police brutality

June 13, 2020 – Hundreds of motorcyclists made their way through Orlando Saturday to protest police brutality. They rode from Florida Rights Restoration Coalition headquarters to the Orange County courthouse in an event called Ride for Racial Justice.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and local motorcyclists to 'Ride for Racial Justice' and protest police brutality in Orlando on Saturday

June 12, 2020 – This weekend, local bikers and motorcyclists are teaming up with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to ride out to the Orange County Courthouse. The ‘Ride for Racial Justice” will protest police brutality and highlight the continuing fight over ex-felons’ voting rights in the state of Florida.

As elections near, Florida legal battles over felon voting, ballot design continue

June 5 , 2020 – As August’s state primaries and November’s general election near, legal battles continue in Florida over access to the ballot box and the ballots. 

Teddy Riley and Wyclef Jean Support #TimeDone Day Rally

June 5, 2020 – Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Committee, was awarded the first #TimeDone National Achievement Award and had one of the most compelling stories I have ever heard.

Killer Mike Implores White America To Do Their ‘Homework’ On Combating Racism

June 4, 2020 – Killer Mike implores white America to confront their own historical oppression of Black people during an appearance of the Late Show With Stephen Colbert

OPINION | Killer Mike: Now’s time to plot, plan, mobilize, strategize

June 3, 2020 – In 1991, 14 Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) police officers brutally beat Rodney King, an African American motorist. Calling what these officers did to King “police brutality” paints a partial picture but is inadequate to explain their impact.

 

KILLER MIKE & GRASSROOTS LEADERS SPEAK UP ... Here's How We're Battling Racism

June 2, 2020 – Killer Mike’s call with the community leaders and grassroots organizers has wrapped up, and his mission was accomplished … they had a large platform to inform the public of vital work being done to end racism, and how people can help.

Our View: Ruling infuses new life into felon voting

May 29, 2020 – The injustice can’t be much plainer than this: “The state of Florida has adopted a system under which nearly a million otherwise-eligible citizens will be allowed to vote only if they pay an amount of money.”

Enough already - Florida needs to accept judge’s ruling on Amendment 4

May 28, 2020 – It was no shock Sunday when a federal judge ruled that Florida’s law restricting voting rights for ex-felons was unconstitutional. The only surprise was the state waiting all of 48 hours to announce it would appeal. Its determination to keep ex-felons away from ballot boxes is such you’d think nothing would slow it down.

COVID-19 Stalls Efforts To Help People With Felony Convictions Register To Vote

May 28, 2020 – In six states, reforms have restored voting rights to more than one million people since 2018. But many public agencies aren’t doing enough to assist them, and the pandemic dealt a blow to grassroots plans to pick up the slack.

 

 

Planet America US Election 2020

May 27, 2020 – President Trump tees off at his critics while accusing a famous TV host of murder. Meanwhile, Biden’s unique approach to the campaign trail insults his biggest supporters. And battlelines are drawn over mail-in voting … is it really a Democrat scam to rig the election?!

Judge Rejects Florida Law Restricting Voter Registration For Felons

May 26, 2020 – Florida felons who have completed their prison sentences and parole terms are one step closer to regaining their right to vote after a federal court ruled against a state law that would have denied felons the right to vote until they paid off outstanding fines and court fees.

Judge rules against Florida on felons paying fines to vote

May 25, 2020 – A Florida law requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe, a federal judge ruled Sunday.

’A game-changer’: Five takeaways from Sunday’s ruling on felon voting

May 25, 2020 – A federal judge’s ruling on felon voting in Florida was a bombshell. The state can’t stop felons from voting if they’re too poor to pay back court-ordered fees, fines and restitution to victims, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle wrote in a ruling issued Sunday.

Federal judge guts Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before they can vote

May 24, 2020 – A federal judge has gutted a Florida state law requiring felons to pay all court fines and fees before they can register to vote, clearing the way for thousands of Floridians to register in time for the November presidential election.

Former felons in Florida still fighting for voting rights

May 23, 2020 – Florida voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved a proposition to allow roughly 1.5 million felons in the state to be given back their right to vote. 

Is COVID-19 delaying the fight for voting rights in Florida?

May 16, 2020 – In Florida, people with felony records are fighting to regain their voting rights. But the coronavirus has made that struggle more difficult. NewsHour Weekend’s Ivette Feliciano spoke to Desmond Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition about what effect the virus has had on their chances of voting in November elections.

In Florida, felons must pay court debts before they can vote. But with no system to do so, many have found it impossible.

May 13, 2020 – The promise of an amendment to Florida’s state constitution seemed huge when it was overwhelmingly approved in November 2018: As many as 1.5 million felons previously barred from casting ballots in the state would soon be able to vote. 

"Let the people out who are due for release": a proposal seeks to reduce the effect of the pandemic in prisons

May 11, 2020 – Ángel Sánchez spent 12 years in prison and is now about to graduate as a lawyer and he argues that the prison system is not ready to deal with the pandemic. He proposes that those who are close to their release date be let out early.

PASSING OUT MASKS AND MORE

May 9, 2020 – To help combat the spread of COVID-19, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition partnered with Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill and Onyx Magazine on April 21 to distribute 3,000 masks to Orlando residents. Masks were distributed at the Coalition for the Homeless, the Salvation Army and two apartment complexes.

FRRC leaders donate masks to Highlands County Jail

May 6, 2020 – Leaders from the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) visited the Highlands County and Broward County Jails on Tuesday to donate thousands of protective masks to both facilities in response to recent reports of lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

How Desmond Meade built a movement that restored voting rights in Florida — almost

May 3, 2020 – One ex-felon launched a grassroots drive against Florida’s Jim Crow-style voting laws — but the fight’s not over.

Former inmates deliver masks to Lee County Jail

May 3, 2020 – A group of former inmates are helping to protect guards and inmates in our community. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition purchased twelve hundred masks. 

FGCU Journalism Students Profile Former Felons About to Vote Again

April 28, 2020 – A federal trial began April 27 in Tallahassee concerning the restoration of voting rights for most non-violent former felons in Florida.

Guest opinion: There is a better way to help the homeless in Lee County

April 28, 2020 – Seeing our community respond to COVID-19 has been both inspiring and heartbreaking. 

Florida Felons' Voting Rights Case to Begin on Monday

April 26, 2020 – A federal court will begin hearing a case on Monday that could decide whether hundreds of thousands of newly enfranchised felons in the key swing state of Florida will be able to vote in November’s election.

Federal judge expands voting decision to apply to all ex-felons in Florida

April 7, 2020 – The federal judge overseeing the ongoing dispute between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and released felons who want to vote handed the Republican governor another defeat Tuesday. 

Florida judge offers new hope to former criminal offenders for voting rights restoration

April 5, 2020 – In the quest to restore voting rights to the nearly 1.4 million Floridians with prior felony convictions, there is new hope that a class action designation will make that possible.

Florida loses a federal appeals court ruling on the state’s felon voting law

March 31, 2020 – A federal appellate court on Tuesday rejected Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to have the court reconsider a ruling that found that Florida felons who have served their time but can’t pay outstanding financial obligations must be allowed to vote.

Florida’s Former Felons Fight Voter Suppression

March 27, 2020 – In Eatonville, Florida, a recount confirmed that incumbent town councilman Tarus Mack beat challenger Marlin Daniels by one vote in the March 17 election in the country’s first incorporated black municipality.

Re-Enfranchised Florida Voters Could Decide the Presidential Election

March 19, 2020 – Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, said he was feeling “positive” as he spoke to Colorlines on March 17. 

Ahead of Florida primary, 1.4 million former felons unsure whether they can vote in 2020

March 16, 2020 – It’s been 16 months since Floridians voted to restore voting rights for roughly 1.4 million felons who had been permanently banned from casting a ballot by a law passed during the Jim Crow era.

In Florida, path to restoring felons’ voting rights has been fraught with challenge

March 12, 2020 – Until 2018, Florida was one of only a few states that banned felons from voting for life. 

Florida ex-felons voting in 2020 for 'second chance'

March 12, 2020 – Floridians are next in line to vote this Presidential primary season, with the primaries scheduled for Tuesday, March 17. 

State Lawmakers Fight Citizen Initiatives

March 11, 2020 – Angie Nixon racked up tons of unpaid overtime to help put Medicaid expansion on the 2020 Florida ballot.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition president dispels Amendment 4 myths

March 9, 2020 – Desmond Meade has been fighting for rights restoration for Florida’s returning citizens for decades. The President of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition spoke to that fight Monday morning at a panel conversation hosted by Rep. Charlie Crist.

 

Make it easier for felons to earn occupational licenses | Column

March 9, 2020 – Floridians with past criminal convictions experience significant barriers when entering the workforce. For those pursuing an occupational license, these challenges are more pronounced.

Voting Rights Activist Desmond Meade Admits Amendment 4 Language "Was Not Perfect"

March 9, 2020 – This month’s presidential primary election is the first statewide vote in Florida since the passage of Amendment 4, the 2018 constitutional amendment that aimed to restore the voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million people with felony convictions.

Over 1 million former felons still face hurdles after being given right to vote

March 8, 2020 – It’s been more than 10 years since ​Gary Daughtry Sr., 66, had the right to vote and since he was released from prison. Previously in the state of Florida, anyone who committed a felony ​lost his or her right to vote ​and had to petition the governor to become re-enfranchised.

 

Desmond Meade On Restoring Voting Rights w/ Felony Convictions in Florida + The Challenges Ahead

February 25, 2020 – Voting rights activist & Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Desmond Meade sits down with Ebro int he Morning to discuss the push to make voting rights legal after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.

Amendment 4′s top advocate isn’t celebrating this week. Here’s why.

February 22, 2020 – Florida’s felon voting rights initiative, known as Amendment 4, scored a big victory Wednesday when a federal appeals court ruled that the Legislature’s effort to limit voting to only felons who have paid off all their court debts was unconstitutional.

Rights Restoration Coalition Looks To Florida Clemency Board Reforms

February 20, 2020 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is pushing the state clemency board to ease its rules and clear the way for more felons to regain their rights.

Florida loses appeals court ruling on felon voting law

February 19, 2020 – A legal and political battle over voting rights in Florida reached another milestone on Wednesday when a federal appeals court ruled that a law limiting the voting rights of people with felony convictions as unconstitutional.

Appeals court slaps DeSantis, GOP on felons voting law

February 19, 2020 – A federal appeals court rocked Florida, the nation’s biggest presidential battleground state, by ruling Wednesday that felons cannot be barred from voting because they failed to pay all fines, fees and restitution stemming from their cases.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition group advocates for clemency reform at Capitol

February 17, 2020 – A Florida group advocating for clemency showed up at the Capitol in big numbers to campaign for the restoration of civil rights. 

Neil Volz has a new lobbying tool, voters, available this Advocacy Day

February 17, 2020 – Neil Volz two years ago spent his time in Tallahassee hoping to turn returning citizens into registered voters. That mission succeeded — for the most part — with passage of Amendment 4.

The biggest voting rights win in recent US history – and the Republicans trying to thwart it

January 9, 2020 – One year ago, Florida enacted the biggest expansion of the right to vote in America in a generation. 

Florida Faces A Rocky Rollout To Restore Voting Rights After Felony Convictions

January 8, 2020 – Florida passed an amendment in 2018, promising to restore voting rights for over a million Floridians with felony convictions. But that hope turned to confusion soon after.

30 Felons Get Early Christmas Gift: Voting Rights Restored

December 25, 2019 – Thirty Hillsborough County residents received the Christmas gift they had hoped for since the November 2018 general election — the restoration of their right to cast their ballot in an election.

Valencia Grad Angel Sanchez Continues to Break Barriers

December 19, 2019 – When Angel Sanchez graduated from Valencia College in 2014 – and led his fellow graduates in a rousing chant of “we don’t settle, we succeed,” at the conclusion of his commencement speech – people at Valencia knew he was going places.

Ex-Felons To Get Financial Help To Vote

December 17, 2019 – The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office is starting a program aimed at giving convicted felons back their right to vote. And it revolves around money.

Some ex-felons in Florida still struggling to have voting rights restored -- here’s why

November 24, 2019 – Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4 last year with the intention of automatically restoring voting rights to most felons who have served their time, but how it works remains cloudy.

TIME 100: The Most Influential People of 2019—Desmond Meade

November 13, 2019 – Check the box and you lose the ability to secure a job, rent an apartment or get a loan. The formerly incarcerated—returning citizens—often face a cruel irony in America.

 

John Legend Lends Support as Florida Felons Get Vote Rights

November 8, 2019 – Singer John Legend was on hand to lend support Friday as 18 former felons were granted the right to vote in what Miami officials called a simple and streamlined process.

Ex-felons vote in Florida after overcoming prison — and the GOP

November 2, 2019 – Desmond Meade can’t vote in Orlando’s mayoral contest. But he’ll be in the city on Saturday anyway, cheering as hundreds of recently reinfranchised ex-felons and their families head to the polls together.

Bus Tour Out To Spread Word About Felons' Voting Rights

November 2, 2019 – Several convicted felons voted for the first time Saturday in Orange County, in the first election season since Amendment Four passed.

DeSantis: Non-violent felons should get more than just voting rights restored

October 22, 2019 – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he’s willing to use his powers as governor to grant potentially tens of thousands of nonviolent felons the ability to serve on juries and run for office.

Desmond Meade Made History but Housing Was Still Out of Reach

October 14, 2019 – Desmond Meade succeeded in building a movement to restore voting rights to 1.4 million U.S. citizens in Florida. Until recently, he faced a barrier securing housing.

Community groups gathering to help former felons restore voting rights

September 6, 2019 – Ten months after Amendment 4 was passed in the 2018 Florida election, voting rights that were supposed to be restored to 1.4 million Floridians formerly convicted of a felony who lost their right to vote but served the entirety of their sentences (with the exception of people convicted of murder or felony sex crimes) still have not been for some.

Amendment 4 Law On Ex-Felon Voting Rights Brings Confusion. Here’s What It Says And Means.

July 3, 2019 – A war of words has broken out over the Amendment 4 bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which requires former felons to pay off all fines and fees included as part of their sentence before their right to vote is restored.

How One Voice Changed Florida's Political Calculus

April 2019 – What’s the hardest thing you have ever done in life? What do you name among your greatest accomplishments? How will you be remembered after you’re gone? To each of us, life has dealt a different set of circumstances that have shaped us to become who we are and have influenced our drive and passions.

Pictures: Central Floridian of the Year Desmond Meade

March 28, 2019 – Orlando lawyer Desmond Meade, for his successful efforts to pass Amendment 4 last November, was named the Orlando Sentinel’s 2018 Central Floridian of the Year.

Central Floridian of the Year finalist: Desmond Meade

February 5, 2019 – Desmond Meade is a finalist for the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Floridian of the Year. Meade is the leader of the Amendment 4 movement which granted voting rights back to ex-felons.

1 Million Floridians Convicted Of Felonies Now Have Right To Vote

January 8, 2019 – Following approval of Amendment 4 by a 64 percent majority of Florida voters during midterm elections, Floridians convicted of felonies now have the right to vote. The new state law takes effect Tuesday, Jan. 8, restoring voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million people who fulfilled their sentences following a felony conviction.

Fighting for a second chance

October 31, 2018 – Angel Sanchez had no time for lunch, much less another interview. The second-year student in the University of Miami School of Law already had so much on tap, including writing an essay on prison for the Harvard Law Review and teaching a high school law class, that he was skipping his own classes and duties at Miami Law’s Innocence Clinic. 

Election 2018: Will Florida Let 1.4M U.S. Citizens Vote in Democracy?

October 23, 2018 – In Florida, returning citizens – or those with felony convictions – are leading a movement by asking: If we’ve paid our debt to society, why are we denied the right to vote? Amendment 4, which is on the November ballot, is capturing nationwide attention.

Desmond Meade Spent Three Years in Prison—Now He Wants His Voting Rights Back

October 18, 2018 – Desmond Meade wants his voting rights back. Almost two decades ago, Meade spent three years in prison after a drug charge conviction. 

Desmond Meade Hopes to Win Voting Rights for 1.4M Floridians with Felony Convictions—Including Himself

October 16, 2018 – Voters in Florida are preparing to vote on a measure that would restore voting rights to 1.4 million people with nonviolent felonies who have fully completed their sentences. 

The Power of Second Chances: Neil Volz’s Story

October 12, 2018 – Neil was a Washington, DC, insider, a chief of staff for a powerful congressperson, a staff director for a congressional committee, a force to be reckoned with in conservative DC circles. 

Ángel Sánchez: "Who I am hasn't changed, what changed is my environment and the things I value."

October 9, 2018 – From a ‘super predator’ in the 1990s to a top scholar in 2018, it is hard to imagine a more deserving case for Amendment Four. 

Will Florida’s Ex-Felons Finally Regain the Right to Vote?

September 26, 2018 – Twenty-five years ago, when he was a sophomore at Ohio State, Neil Volz started volunteering for his state senator, Bob Ney. 

Convicted felon advocates for restoration of civil rights

May 23, 2018 – Should convicted felons’ civil rights be restored? Neil Volz, of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition was convicted of conspiracy as part of the Jack Ambramoff lobbying scandal more than a decade ago. 

Millions of ex-cons lost their right to vote. Now they might get it back.

January 28, 2018 – When Desmond Meade’s wife ran for a seat in Florida’s State House in the 2016 election, he knocked on doors and helped her campaign. 

UCF grad: From street gang to law school

August 11, 2017 – When UCF graduate Angel Sanchez starts law school in Miami this week, it will be a strange sort of homecoming. 

The US Disenfranchises People Unlike Any Other Country, This Guy Is Proof

April 13, 2017 – What kind of a democracy works so hard to keep its citizens from voting? The US Democracy.