Opening Session:
Restoration of Ex-Felon Voting Rights: Florida’s Success Story

Melba Pearson, Deputy Director - ACLU Florida

Sunday, March 10 - 5:30-7:00pm

The institute’s opening session will feature Melba Pearson, Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and a representative from Floridians for a Fair Democracy, a group that gathered more than 1.1 million signatures to put the referendum on the ballot in November’s election. Until this vote, Florida law barred people from voting even after they had completed their sentences which represented around 10 percent of the state’s voting population. Only two other states, Kentucky and Iowa, still have similar existing laws.

The session will be about the “why” of voting restoration as well as the “how” such a campaign was successful. This will be an amazing story of how citizens can create real and meaningful change in their communities.


Melba Pearson

Melba Pearson - Deputy Director of ACLU Florida
Melba Pearson, a New York native, has called Miami home for close to 20 years. After receiving her undergraduate degree at New York University, she completed her studies at Hofstra University School of Law.

Ms. Pearson is the Deputy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida. Before joining the ACLU, Ms. Pearson was an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County for 16 years. After prosecuting a variety of crimes, she was selected to join the Domestic Crimes Unit, focusing on serious domestic violence crimes as well as homicides for close to four years. In her next assignment, Ms. Pearson was integral to the re-launch of the Community Prosecution Unit, whose goal is partnering with the community to find creative solutions to prevent crime and provide outreach. She ended her prosecutorial career as the Assistant Chief in the Career Criminal/Robbery Unit, supervising junior attorneys while prosecuting homicides.

Ms. Pearson is a frequent guest lecturer on a wide array of law enforcement concerns. She lectured nationwide to prosecutors on behalf of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA). She serves as adjunct faculty for the University of Phoenix and Bryant and Stratton College, teaching law to undergraduate as well as master’s students. She has been a guest on national media regarding legal trends. Ms. Pearson is a highly sought after public speaker known for her lively and engaging speaking style at corporate, industry and academic events. She has spoken on and moderated panels for the American Bar Association, the National Black Prosecutors Association, the (Miami) Dade County Bar Association and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.