5 minutes: Offenders must present cases quickly to be considered for pardons that change lives

By: - January 18, 2023 2:00 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis and elected Cabinet members considered cases for clemency during an executive clemency board meeting Jan. 18, 2023. Credit: Issac Morgan

In a packed room in the state Capitol on Wednesday, where lives could change or remain stagnant, more than 60 cases were considered for pardons or other measures, such as authority to own and possess guns.

People asking for clemency would be allowed no more than five minutes to state their case, according to the rules for executive clemency.

And on Wednesday, many offenders took the opportunity to speak before the executive clemency board, which includes Gov. Ron DeSantis and the elected Cabinet members: Wilton Simpson, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

The panel approved many pardons at the meeting, but some cases were denied because officials felt their crimes were serious.

Surrounded by family members and a two-year-old toddler, Carlton Antonio Irvis approached the podium to tell the clemency board why he believes his civil rights should be fully restored after he was charged with robbery.

His wife was holding their daughter in her arms, while Irvis told state officials that he completed his probation and has engaged in volunteer work for many years in the Tampa Bay area.

“Thank you for the opportunity to be here,” Irvis said. “When I was 17, I got arrested for home invasion [and] robbery.”

“I entered a plea of no contest and adjudication was withheld and I fully completed all of my probation. As a kid, I was young, insecure and naïve. I grew up in a pretty rough environment.”

“I’ve made tremendous improvements since then,” he said. “Since then, I have spent a lot of times volunteering at the church and in local communities. … I acted as the creative coach at my church and participated in mentoring other people.”

“So this residence that you guys broke into, were there people present?” DeSantis asked Irvis.

Irvis said there were people in the home, and “one of the residences invited us into the home; he opened the door for us.”

DeSantis denied clemency to Irvis, raising concerns about the victims in the home invasion and wanted their input on whether Irvis should be granted a pardon.

“I appreciate what you’ve done,” DeSantis said. “It seems like you have great support and I am happy to see that. You know, at the same time, this is a serious offense.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.

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