2020 to 2021

Committed to ending the disenfranchisement and discrimination against people with convictions.





Archived Articles

FRRC is making a difference! Check out these news articles from November 2020 to December 2021.

Archived Articles

FRRC is making a difference! Check out these news articles from November 2020 to December 2021.

Archived Articles

FRRC is making a difference! Check out these news articles from November 2020 to December 2021.

How Debt Is Impacting Voting Rights For Some Americans

December 16, 2021 – The right to vote is a sacred part of the American fabric. But that right can be lost with a felony conviction, which Angel Sanchez learned first-hand.

A dozen Orlando groups doing essential work that's worth your dollars

December 15, 2021 – This is our second year of singling out 12 local organizations that could use your financial support, and things have changed.

This surprising solution to the 'Great Resignation' is right in front of us

December 10, 2021 – As someone who has spent more than two decades in the criminal justice reform movement, I believe in a justice system that holds people accountable while also providing people with a trajectory toward rehabilitation, employment and well-being.

Desmond Meade: Next up for Rights Restoration group is “Ban the Box”

December 6, 2021 – In 2005, Desmond Meade writes in his book, “Let My People Vote,” he was a drug addict just released from prison after a felony conviction who considered throwing himself in front of a train to end the misery of his life.

Criminal justice reform could ease labor shortage

December 3, 2021 – It’s no secret that businesses across Florida are experiencing a workforce crisis, forcing some to shorten hours, close on some days and stop providing some important services to customers.

I’ll leave prison next year. But under Florida law, when will I be able to vote? | Opinion

December 3, 2021 – I am a recovering addict serving eight years for nonviolent property crimes that I committed to support my habit. When I’m released next year, I’ll walk out of prison having paid my debt to society.

Activist Desmond Meade gets civil rights restored - The Famuan

November 16, 2021 – Former felon (Returning Citizen) turned civil rights activist Desmond Meade has been battling for his civil rights for a long time. Recently, Meade got these rights restored.

Scoring the Goal: Activist overcomes his own obstacles to lead movement helping formerly incarcerated people gain access to the ballot

November 5, 2021 – Desmond Meade was visiting his hometown on St. Croix in 2014, several bottles of rum he had collected for friends in Florida on the table beside him, when he got the news. 

Voting rights advocates hosting event to give convicted felons (Returning Citizens) a "second chance” at employment

November 2, 2021 – Voting rights advocates have organized an event in Orlando to help convicted felons (Returning Citizens) who have paid their debts to society find jobs. The event is part of an effort by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

'The greatest change': Felon (Returning Citizen) voting rights advocate gives speech in Tallahassee

November 1, 2021 – The man who ran the constitutional amendment campaign that restored voting rights of convicted felons (Returning Citizens) treated a Tallahassee audience Monday to an inspirational tale of his personal journey from homeless drug addict to nationally recognized leader of a campaign to help others like himself.

After success in Florida, civil rights leader says support for voting rights for felons (Returning Citizens) is growing

October 25, 2021 – After being the face and the driving voice behind Florida voters passing Amendment 4 in 2018, Desmond Meade has emerged as one of the most prominent civil rights leaders in the nation.

In Tampa, second-chance employment will create a better community for everybody

October 25, 2021 – We are told in Isaiah to remember not former things, nor to consider the things of old. And yet, thanks to historical legacies of injustice, we have an inhumane system of return for convicted Americans that burdens too many families.

Events to examine the future of political parties and direct democracy

October 20, 2021 – As another election cycle draws closer, conversations are emerging around how to make democracy work for everyone — from voting rights to political parties. The McCourtney Institute for Democracy will address these topics head-on at two events taking place in mid-November.


Miami Dolphins Social Impact Committee Announces Programmatic Support for 2021 Season

October 19, 2021 – The Miami Dolphins Social Impact Committee announced it will continue to positively impact civic engagement, education, and economic empowerment in South Florida.


The Restoration of Voting Rights and Florida Politics With Desmond Meade

October 18, 2021 – Bakari is joined by president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Desmond Meade to talk about how overcoming homelessness and addiction shaped his worldview (3:45), his work in Florida to restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions (12:04), and his new book Let My People Vote((23:32).


Florida felon (Returning Citizen) voting activist Meade gets civil rights back

October 10, 2021 – The civil rights of Florida voting icon Desmond Meade were restored this week, allowing him to run for office, serve on a jury and take the bar exam.


Florida felon (Returning Citizen) voting activist Meade gets civil rights back

October 10, 2021 – The Florida activist who led a movement to allow most former felons (Returning Citizens) to vote got more civil rights restored under a new state clemency program.

Desmond Meade, felons’ (Returning Citizen's) rights activist, wins restoration of his own civil rights

October 9, 2021 – Desmond Meade, a main force behind Florida’s drive to restore civil rights to thousands of former felons (Returning Citizens), now has had his own rights restored.


Florida voting rights leader Desmond Meade has civil rights restored

October 9, 2021 – The civil rights of Florida voting icon Desmond Meade were restored this week, allowing him to run for office, serve on a jury and take the bar exam.

Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Civil Rights of Returning Citizens

October 4, 2021 – The 2021 MacArthur Fellows were recently announced and the list of recipients of the so-called “Genius Grant” include Desmond Meade, President and Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition which spearheaded the 2018 Amendment 4 ballot initiative.

MacArthur seeds change with `genius grants’

October 3, 2021 – Desmond Meade, 54, a civil rights activist, triumphed over addiction, homelessness and a 15-year prison term for possession of a firearm as a felon. He is executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, working to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated persons.

Here Are Our Conversations With A Few Of This Year's MacArthur Fellows

September 29, 2021 – This year’s MacArthur fellows were announced on Tuesday. The list highlights 25 exceptional individuals that span across fields, ranging from studying the mechanisms of how landforms are created on Earth, to exploring racial disparities through film. Each fellow receives $625,000 to spend however they like, as an investment in their potential.

Florida activist wins MacArthur genius grant

September 29, 2021 – Desmond Meade, the face of a movement to restore voting rights to Florida felons, has won a so-called genius grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Florida civil rights activist Desmond Meade among ‘genius grant’ recipients

September 28, 2021 – Desmond Meade, who led a successful years-long effort to grant voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions, was awarded a prestigious MacArthur “genius grant” on Tuesday.

Voting rights advocate Desmond Meade named MacArthur "genius grant" winner

September 28, 2021 – Desmond Meade, a civil rights activist who spearheaded an effort to restore the vote to formerly incarcerated people in Florida, has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship

Civil rights activist Desmond Meade — the face and driving force behind efforts to force Florida to restore voting rights to felons (Returning Citizens) — has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow.

September 28, 2021 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition says there’s financial barriers stopping returning citizens in the state from participating in this National Voter Registration Day.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s Neil Volz Says Barriers Still Exist Between Returning Citizens And The Ballot Box

September 28, 2021 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition says there’s financial barriers stopping returning citizens in the state from participating in this National Voter Registration Day.

Who are the 2021 MacArthur fellows?

September 28, 2021 – Writers, artists, poets, a virologist, activists and filmmakers are among the luminaries named as this year’s MacArthur fellows. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Tuesday announced 25 people will each receive $625,000 over five years to use as they please.

Voting rights activist Desmond Meade wins prestigious MacArthur Fellowship ‘Genius Grant’

September 28, 2021 – Desmond Meade, the Orlando man who overcame homelessness and drug addiction to earn a law degree and lead a sweeping movement to restore the voting rights of former felons (Returning Citizens), has won a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship “genius” grant, one of the highest honors recognizing an individual’s contribution to society, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Tuesday.

Prison Poet Laureate speaks for Florida's incarcerated

September 20, 2021 – Kathie Klarreich of Miami started Exchange for Change in 2014. The mission of the organization, she says, is to teach writing and bring the voices of the incarcerated out to the public. The hope is to inform people about who is inside the state’s correctional facilities.

Ending harsh felony disenfranchisement laws in the South

September 17, 2021 – A lawsuit seeking to restore voting rights to North Carolinians with felony convictions faced a setback on Sept. 3 when the state Court of Appeals stayed a lower court’s August ruling that would have allowed people on probation or parole to register while the case moved forward.

Orange County Moves To ‘Ban The Box’

September 10, 2021 – Orange County says it will remove a question about criminal history from its initial job application form. Orange County Human Resources Director Ricardo Daye said there are a lot of vacancies right now, including positions at the convention center, and in the public works and utilities departments, and the question about criminal history is a deterrent for some job-seekers. 

Orange County to ‘ban the box’ asking job applicants about past criminal convictions

September 10, 2021 – People applying for a job with the Orange County government will no longer have to disclose prior criminal convictions at the beginning of the application process, a move officials and advocates hope will improve access to employment for those with a criminal record, Human Resources Director Ricardo Daye announced Friday.

Fort Myers community activist remembered for giving people a voice

August 24, 2021 – Southwest Florida is mourning the loss of a community activist. Monday, Anthony Thomas Jr. died of cancer in the hospital. He had been receiving treatment there for the past few months and even worked in his hospital bed until his death.

Lee County Jail, inmate at odds over Covid numbers

August 24, 2021 – Covid-19 concerns, while incarcerated. That’s a reality many people are facing. And Michael Shawn Brown is in one of them.

Want to find more workers? Make it easier to hire people with criminal records.

August 17, 2021 – The U.S. economy seems poised for revival, but “help wanted” signs that keep popping up in windows across the country tell a different story. With millions of positions going unfilled each month, it’s clear that our recovery won’t work unless it works for everyone.

Handwritten letters are all Florida prisoners have left. Now FDC wants to take that away

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.

Rolling Loud’s penchant for hospitality and evolution helped shepherd its 2021 return

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.

Battle to restore Florida felons' voting rights heads to appeals court

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

July 15, 2021 – An Orlando Black business owner, who at first did not want the vaccine, said his views have changed after his recent battle with COVID-19. Marquiz McKenzie, 30, said he was regularly wearing his mask and even getting tested for COVID.

Convicted or not, mugshots can live online forever. But should they?

July 14, 2021 – Mugshots, the photographs taken by police agencies when booking someone accused of a crime into jail, sometimes go viral. Police post them online, people share them on social media and there are websites dedicated to publishing and profiting off mugshots.

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.

Voters supported progressive policies on ballot initiatives. Republicans are pushing back.

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.

Local organization on a mission to help former convicts (Returning Citizens) re-enter society

June 10, 2021 – It’s often described as a second chance. Former convicts being released from their prison sentence and stepping back into society. 

This Is How Hard It Is to Vote After You've Left Prison

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.

Florida Democrat is launching three constitutional amendments to make voting easier

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:

Here's how Floridians are defying Ron DeSantis' Jim Crow voter suppression law

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.

Lake County event helps people secure voting rights provided by 2018's Amendment 4

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.

Tour stop provides info, vaccinations

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.  

'Free the Vote' bus tour making stop in Eustis this weekend

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. 

Florida voting rights advocacy group cleared by FDLE after allegations of illegal donations

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.

Felons (Returning Citizens) can get fines paid at tour stop in SE Gainesville

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.

Gaetz, Moody spread election conspiracy. FDLE spends 706 hours proving it false. | Commentary

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.

Biden Is Developing a Pardon Process With a Focus on Racial Justice

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.”

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition registers former felons (Returning Citizens) to vote

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.

Democrats move to expand voting rights for felons (Returning Citizens)

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.

'Free The Vote' tour bus brings voting info to felons (Returning Citizens) in Kissimmee

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.

Voting rights advocate Desmond Meade to receive 2021 Brown Democracy Medal

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.

Florida lawmakers Must Protect Children’s Futures

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.

Florida rights restoration group to Orlando: Get vaccinated, get voting

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.

'Free the Vote' bus tour stops in RivieraBeach

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.

Voter rights restoration at Riveira Beach, Fla. event

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.

Activists across Florida condemn passage of Gov. Ron DeSantis' so-called anti-riot bill

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.

Senate Republicans overhaul election reform bill, fixing some things, raising new issues

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.


Breaking the cycle of repeat offenses

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. 

Ban the Box town hall discusses removing criminal history application questions

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.

State prisons set to receive 33K doses of COVID-19 vaccine

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. 

Activists Want Inmates Near Piney Point Reservoir Evacuated

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.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition kicks off statewide bus tour in Jacksonville

April 3, 2021 – The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition kicked off Second Chance Month with its latest statewide bus tour, starting in Jacksonville Saturday. 

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition kicks off statewide bus tour in Jacksonville

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. 

As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands, there's still no plan to vaccinate Florida prison inmates

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.

Encore: Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Civil Rights of Returning Citizens

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.

Florida's New Clemency Process A 'Huge' Marker Of Progress, Civil Rights Leader Desmond Meade Says

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.

Florida’s New Clemency Process Is A ‘Huge’ Marker Of Progress, Says Civil Rights Leader

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.

Protecting robust voting rights laws will require a robust army of voting rights lawyers

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.

Voting Rights

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.

3 Questions

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.

Clemency reform is a win-win-win for Florida | Opinion

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.

Florida restores more rights for felons (returning citizens)

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.

In Spite: DeSantis Denies Pardon for World-Acclaimed Voting Rights Leader Desmond Mead

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.

Clemency board approves sweeping changes, punts pardon for man who inspired them

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.

Ex-Felons (returning citizens) In Florida Gain Right To Serve On Juries And Run For Public Office

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.

Florida Streamlines Rights Restoration for Felons (returning citizens)

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.

Gov. DeSantis denies pardon for Desmond Meade but pushes through reform of FL’s clemency process

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.

State could end clemency waiting periods

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.

President Biden's new Executive Order Expands voting rights and honors Civil Rights Leaders

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.

Florida could reinstate felons' (returning citizen's) right to bear arms under proposed bill

March 8, 2021 – A Republican senator has proposed a bill to reinstate gun rights to nonviolent felons (returning citizens) who have completed their sentences.

Voting-rights fight continues 56 years after Bloody Sunday | Commentary

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.

Mount Dora High hosts panel discussion on growing up Black in Florida

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.”

We should vaccinate inmates. Go ahead and scream. But here’s why ..

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. 

Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Civil Rights of Returning Citizens

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.

From Homeless to Human Rights

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.

The Athletes Have More to Say

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.”

Business owner overcomes past jail time, now runs thriving business

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.

Stetson Law Honors Desmond Meade With Public Service Award

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.

Lawmakers seek to Limit Who Benefits from Minimum Wage Increase

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.

Social Justice Game Changers Spotlight Keys for Change During Orlando Magic’s Virtual Town Hall

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.

Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund Disburses Grants to FRRC

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.

Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund Disburses Grants to FRRC

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.

Brooklyn Band 'Safety' announces donation to the FRRC Fines and Fees Fund.

February 17, 2021 – Brooklyn emo band Safety have announced a new EP, Greetings from the Sunshine State. All pre-order sales of the EP will be donated to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s (FRRC) Fines and Fees Fund.

South African Judge And Human Rights Lawyer To Speak At Stetson Law

February 17, 2021 – The president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition will be honored with an award during the Feb. 22 virtual event.

Voting rights, clemency imbalances show racism still exists | Commentary

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.

Minimum-wage exception bill another blow for ex-felons (returning citizens)

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.

Making It Easier to Vote Is Good for Republicans, Too

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.

Social Justice Game Changer: Desmond Meade

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).

Magic Tip Off Black History Month Celebration by Hosting First of Four Virtual Town Halls

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.

Vaccines to be made available to county jail inmates- once supplies increase

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.

He was facing life in prison. Now, he’s the CEO of the ‘Instagram for the Incarcerated.’

January 30, 2021 – Marcus Bullock, the founder and CEO of Flikshop, wants to be the poster child for second chances.

Florida Bill Would Limit Who Gets $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

January 29, 2021 – Proposed legislation in Tallahassee would allow employers to pay “hard to hire” individuals less than the rising minimum wage.

Advocates For The Incarcerated Push For COVID-19 Vaccinations

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.

Proposed minimum wage amendment could pay 'low-skilled workers' less

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.

Last Call for 1.18.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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.

10 Activists Continuing MLK’s Work Today

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.

Desmond Meade: A Warrior for Voting Rights

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.

Dolphins Announce 2020 Team Award Winners

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.

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Kristen Grimm, president at Spitfire Strategies

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.”

How Thousands of American Laws Keep People ‘Imprisoned’ Long After They’re Released

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.

Fines cleared for two dozen Alachua County felons (returning citizens)

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.

Returning Citizens Need Better Access to Professional Licensing

December 18, 2020 – A long list of occupational licensing requirements blocks returning citizens from the workforce. In fact, Florida deters entry to 56 of the 102 low- and moderate-income occupations, ranking the state fifth in the country with the most burdensome occupational licensing laws.

For families, the negative effects of incarceration continue far beyond time served

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.”

Orlando Magic Celebrate Thanksgiving at the Coalition for the Homeless for 28th Year

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.

Questions still surround ex-felon (returning citizen) voter eligibility in Florida

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.

Voting Activist Desmond Meade on Re-enfranchising People & Why “Ex-Felon” Is a Dehumanizing Label

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.

Florida failed hundreds of thousands of potential voters. We must fix this

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.

Green Thumb Industries to Open Rise Kendall, Its 50th Retail Location, on November 18

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)

The fight against voter suppression in Georgia was integral to the 2020 election outcome

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.

An Estimated 50,000 Florida Felons (returning citizens) Voted Last Week

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.

Florida Leads Nation in Voter Disenfranchisement

November 9, 2020 – In November of 2018, approximately 64% of Floridians voted in favor of Florida Amendment 4, a constitutional amendment meant to ensure voting rights for former felons (returning citizens).

Micky Arison to join NBA Social Justice Coalition Board

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.