TALLAHASSEE – Other cases it heard at its quarterly meeting go back even further, and those seeking the state’s mercy may soon find an easier path to normalcy.
On July 1, there were 24,400 people waiting for a hearing before the Clemency Board. Wednesday’s agenda had just 82 cases, which is why the announcement from Gov. Ron DeSantis comes as good news.
“But if we can crank out some of this stuff without having to have people come here, then I think that would be good and allow us to do more,” DeSantis told fellow board members as he proposed a rule change.
The governor then read 20 names. “So the cases I just read are denied,” he said.
After that, the board approved relief for 11 others.
“I’m grateful for your time today,” said applicant Michael Ross. He came asking for firearm authority after a 1994 marijuana conviction.
He left with a full pardon.
Ross first applied for mercy 12 years ago.
“It’s been a lot of wait, but now I feel the weight has been lifted off of me. I’m very blessed and thankful” Ross said.
Daniel Tatak, of Bonita Springs, came asking for a pardon after a 1996 drug conviction. He got it.
“I feel great” said Daniel. “You know, it does take a long time but these are things that I was warned about before I committed them.”
The rule change will likely be voted upon at the board’s next meeting in March.
The coming change is music to the ears of Nikki Fried, who has fought for new rules since before being elected.
“Starting to see movement on the rules changes is going to be a big benefit to our state,” she said.
The rules making clemency more difficult were first approved in 2011.
Amendment Four, which gives nonviolent felons the right to vote, was passed in 2018 over frustrations and delays getting before the Clemency Board.