Criminal Justice Reforms Needed In Florida
Floridians are forking over roughly $3 billion annually to maintain over 60 state prisons and the 100,000 people who are locked up in them. With 30,000 new people being incarcerated every year, the rate of incarceration is growing annually—to the tune of about 18 percent over a decade. That compares to a national average of one-sixth Florida’s rate. Are there ways to turn some of these horrible trends around?
Harsh Laws on the Books
Florida laws are ridiculously out of date, costing the state way too much money with no real benefit. Consider the facts:
- People are required to serve 85 percent of their sentence;
- Parole has been eliminated;
- About one-third of people re-offend within three years of release;
- The recidivism rate jumps to double that within five years of release.
Hanging on to Tough Laws
There are some legislators who are eager to modify some of the tough laws on the books, but, unfortunately, they are in the minority:
- Under current law, when someone reoffends within three years of release, they are required to serve the maximum sentence. Attempts to repeal this law failed in the 2022 legislative session.
- In Florida detainees are allowed to earn time off of their sentences by participating in drug-treatment, education, or other rehabilitative programs that are connected to lowering recidivism rates. Unfortunately, the Sunshine State allows only a 15 percent reduction in a sentence, which is less than most other states. While some would like to expand the sentence reduction to 35 percent, the idea was quashed in the 2022 legislative session.
- The least likely prisoners to reoffend are those aged 50+. These individuals are also the most expensive to keep in prison due to health issues. While conditional programs for aging and medical early release were proposed in the 2022 legislative session, they were not successful.
- Prisoners are often charged exorbitant rates to make phone calls, despite the fact that maintaining family ties is linked to lower recidivism rates. Nonetheless, a bill to allow prisoners free phone calls was defeated in the 2022 legislature.
- Maintaining family relationships is clearly a benefit to both prisoners and society, yet prisoners are not allowed to receive paper cards or mail from families, and an attempt to change that was defeated in the 2022 legislative session.
Fighting the Good Fight
The dedicated criminal defense attorneys at our office are committed to achieving the best possible results as we navigate the very difficult climate undergirding the criminal justice system here in the state of Florida. To discuss your circumstances, schedule a confidential consultation with the Kissimmee criminal defense attorneys at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. today.