Tampa panel talks criminal justice reform ahead of Session – Florida Politics (blog)
While red-leaning states like Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana have made significant criminal justice reforms over the past decade, Florida’s GOP-led Legislature has stood still.
Thirty-three states have implemented such reforms since 2007, while Florida’s prison population continues to grow, with the state now spending more than $2.4 billion a year to incarcerate nearly 100,000 people — the third-largest prison population in the U.S.
Hoping to reverse that trend by pushing for various measures addressing juvenile justice, adult citation programs and mandatory minimums is the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform, a coalition of nonpartisan groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU, which is intent on seeing some changes made in 2018. Members of the coalition met before approximately 50 citizens at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Complex in Tampa Monday night.
“We’re trying to really bring Florida in line with the rest of the country, and all the reforms you’re going to hear me talk about tonight we believe will reduce the racial disparity, reduce the incarcerated population, and ultimately make our community safer,” said Raymer Maguire, the ACLU of Florida’s criminal justice manager.
Maguire said the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform’s plan is focused on encouraging rehabilitation over punishment, and preparing incarcerated individuals for a life post-release that allows them to have housing, jobs and to ultimately become productive members of society.
Florida sends more children to adult court prison than any other state. From 2005-20015, the national average prison population increase was 3 percent. In Florida it’s 18 percent, the highest in the country.
“The system is broken, and it’s been broken for a long time,” said St. Petersburg Democratic state Sen. Darryl Rouson.
Among the bills he’s sponsoring in the upcoming session include reducing raising