IROC (Inmate Release of Clemency) Bill’s Plan to Restore Liberty through Clemency
The clemency function is an act of mercy that absolves an individual from all or any part of the punishment that the law imposes. This is a power to grant full or conditional pardons, or commute punishment. There are rules for these lengthy procedures, with the primary power being vested in the Governor, but for the requirement of approval of two cabinet members. The Rules of Executive Clemency can be viewed online at: https://fpc.state.fl.us/PDFs/clemency_rules.pdf
If elected Attorney General, I will initiate a process to restore liberty through clemency. I refer to the process as “IROC”– Inmate Release of Clemency. It is an act of mercy to right the wrong that prior administrations have bestowed upon many peaceful Floridians now serving time in state prisons for perceived victimless offenses against society. In many instances it is the mere possession of marijuana that resulted in their incarceration. In many instances the percentage of black males incarcerated is highly disproportionate to the population of the communities from which they have been removed.
Clemency is governed by Article IV, Section 8, of the Florida Constitution. Section 8(a), which provides as follows:
Except in cases of treason and in cases where impeachment results in conviction, the governor may, by executive order filed with the custodian of state records, suspend collection of fines and forfeitures, grant reprieves not exceeding sixty days and, with the approval of two members of the cabinet, grant full or conditional pardons, restore civil rights, commute punishment, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses.
The Attorney General cannot deviate from the Constitution, but can affect the manner in which constitutional law is implemented through the Rules of Executive Clemency, pursuant to Rule 2 of the Rules of Executive Clemency, which provides in pertinent part:
These rules were created by mutual consent of the Clemency Board to assist persons in applying for clemency. However, nothing contained herein can or is intended to limit the authority or discretion given to the Clemency Board in the exercise of its constitutional prerogative.
With the influence of the Attorney General’s seat on the Clemency Board, if elected, I pledge to propose additional language to Rule 5 of the Rules of Executive Clemency, Eligibility, to-wit: a new paragraph to be known as Rule 5(F). The purpose of Rule 5(F) is to modify application of Rule 4, Clemency. Proposed Rule 5(F) will provide as follows:
. . .
(F) In instances where the Office of Clemency Investigations finds, to the satisfaction of the Clemency Board, that the applicant for clemency was convicted of possession marijuana, without the intent to sell, and is serving time for no other conviction, and the adjudication of said conviction did not include an act of violence nor any identifiable, known or suspected victim, and the charging document filed of record does not include possession of a firearm at the time of arrest, the governor’s approval and the approval of two members of the cabinet to grant such applicant a full or conditional pardon, restoration of civil rights, and to commute punishment shall be deemed to be given. The de facto approval referenced in this section does not require the Clemency Board to accept the findings of the Office of Clemency Investigations. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to constitute the governor or any other cabinet member’s approval to grant full or conditional refund or return of any fines paid or personal property confiscated and subjected to forfeiture in conjunction with the pardoned offense.