A group of “tax watchdogs” and business lobbyists are working to create a program of justice reform. They are hoping to draft legislation that would create alternatives to incarceration, saving taxpayers money and hopefully reducing recidivism. But, they are also bracing for possible opposition from Gov. Rick Scott.
Last year, Scott vetoed legislation that would have helped drug addicts transition from prison back to the community. It would have sent them into treatment after serving half of their time. The bill was passed 40-0 in the Senate and 112-4 in the House, but Scott was not persuaded.
“Justice to victims of crime is not served when a criminal is permitted to be released early from a sentence imposed by the courts,” he said with his veto. “This bill would permit criminals to be released after serving 50 percent of their sentences, thus creating an unwarranted exception to the rule that inmates serve 85 percent of their imposed sentences.”
This time around, the Florida Smart Justice Alliance is taking their time studying what works and what doesn’t in other states, hoping to provide some concrete ideas at a December summit in Orlando. The goal still involves an institutional rehabilitation program to cut incarceration costs and decrease recidivism, though this time they hope to make it past the governor.
One proposed program would reportedly save Floridians $20 million in incarceration expenses related to imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders.
“Our goal is to identify productive alternatives to incarceration on the front end and better transitioning efforts for those prisoners who are being released back into their communities,” said Mark Flynn, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Smart Justice Association.
The governor doesn’t want to appear soft on crime. It typically doesn’t fare well in the polls if you seem to not be concerned with victims. Unfortunately, what the general media and the general public may not realize, is that an offender spending 85% of his sentence in prison and being released free-and-clear afterwards may be more likely to reoffend than one who serves 50% in prison and the remainder in secure treatment. Why? Because prisons simply can’t provide the rehabilitation that treatment programs can.
When you have a drug problem, you need help for that problem. And help can’t come in the form of a jail sentence. If you’ve been charged with drug possession or even distribution, we may be able to assist you in getting the help you need. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and the options available to you.