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Controversy surrounding questions asked at clemency board meeting

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The constitutionality of Florida's clemency process will be discussed in a federal appellate court in July, and new concerns about the sensitivity and appropriateness of questions asked at the Florida Clemency Board's most recent meeting may play into the decision.

At the board's most recent meeting, CFO Jimmy Patronis asked Erwin Jones how many kids he had, and how many different women he had children with.

His opponent, former State Senator Jeremy Ring, said the remarks smack of racism.

"It's insensitive, it's intolerant. It has no place on the Clemency board, but again, I think it also speaks to as to why the Federal judge smacked down the clemency committee," Ring said.

In a statement, Patronis campaign spokeswoman Katie Strickland defended the line of questioning, saying they centered on a history of domestic violence in the case. After the June meeting, Attorney General Pam Bondi defended Patronis's questions.

"I think he's trying to get people to come out of their shell and humanize them," Bondi said.

There was no decision in Erwin Jones' case, but the questions will likely come up when a federal appeals court in Atlanta hears arguments later in July about the arbitrary way Florida considers who gets their rights back.

The Patronis campaign put out a statement Monday afternoon stating Patronis has asked at least three white men about their wives, children, and child support.