Chelsea Murphy: Right on Crime; conservative on justice – Florida Politics (blog)
During the upcoming 2018 Florida Legislative Session, Right on Crime will serve as a resource to lawmakers on the importance of criminal justice reform, breaking down long-held, but unsupported, policy prescriptions. For example, the assumption that to decrease crime, all drug offenders should be subjected to the same mandatory minimum sentences has led to burdensome prison costs with little return for public safety.
As an alternative, Right on Crime will introduce and promote public safety reform measures that have seen results in other states that most Floridians want to see enacted.
Housing 102,000 inmates in 63 prisons across Florida costs taxpayers nearly $2.4 billion and the recidivism rate is a dismal 33 percent – meaning one out of every three inmates released from a Florida prison will return to a Florida prison within three years. Just as conservatives hold other government functions accountable for spending, the same cost-effectiveness requirement should apply to our criminal justice system.
There are steps Florida can take to cut crime and spending within the criminal justice landscape that have proven to save taxpayer dollars, reduce recidivism and protect public safety.
For instance, reforming mandatory minimum sentencing by instituting a judicial safety valve. Under current Florida law, judges are required to sentence all individuals convicted of certain drug crimes to the same mandatory prison term – without taking any mitigating factors into account. Meaning a first-time, low-level drug offender is subject to the same minimum prison term as a drug kingpin.
If a judicial safety valve were instituted, the court system would be given the flexibility needed to divert low-level drug offenders with substance abuse issues into drug treatment.
While some argue this puts dealers back on the streets and endangers the public, there is simply