Some lawmakers are looking to remove mandatory minimum sentences for drug users and allow judges to get back to the business of sentencing. And while the proposition has support on both sides, the Governor is adamant that changing sentencing laws is not the right solution.
Currently, one in ten inmates within Florida state prisons is there on a drug offense. In battling the prescription drug trade, in particular, some legislatures believe many of these inmates would be better served if the judge could determine an appropriate sentence, rather than have to be locked into a mandatory minimum as dictated by statute.
A Senate Criminal justice Committee unanimously passed their version of the bill, much to the dismay of opponents including Florida sheriffs and prosecutors, according to the Miami Herald. A milder version of the bill is being tossed around the House as well, though it’s meeting greater opposition there.
The author of SB 1334 states only seven tablets of Vicodin can land someone in prison for three years. And seven tabs is hardly the calling card of a big time trafficker. But despite this, those opposed to repealing the mandatory minimums believe the laws should remain how they are.
Citing deterrence and the pretty simplistic notion that a broken law deserves jail time, the Governor has no desire to change thing. “I’m not interested in reducing sentencing,” he says “I think the sentencing guidelines are correct.”
Conservatives across the country are changing their tune when it comes to criminal justice reform, due in part at least to tight budgets and growing prison costs. But despite such names as Newt Gingrich and Grover Nordquist supporting drastic change, the governor seems committed to his position.
If the bills pass the Legislature, however, it will be interesting to see if Governor Scott’s resolve wavers. After all, as Senator Bogdanoff stated “If you have a bill that goes through the Legislature and has overwhelming support, he has to make a decision as to who’s right, one man or 160 people?”
In the meantime, a possession charge that may be better served with treatment intensive probation will get slapped with a mandatory prison sentence. If you are facing charges like this, you have every right to be concerned. Contact our attorneys today to discuss your case and the options you have.