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Conservative Coalition Applauds Proposed Mandatory Minimum Reform

Right on Crime, FAMM, Reason Foundation, & The James Madison Institute Praise Action

Tallahassee, Fla. – A coalition of conservative public policy organizations today applauded a proposed reform to Florida’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. Florida Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Representative Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) filed legislation to create a judicial safety valve for low-level drug crimes.

“One-size-fits-all punishments do not reduce crime, and every dollar spent locking up low-level drug offenders is a dollar that can’t be used to punish dangerous criminals,” said Greg Newburn, FAMM’s State Policy Director. “We thank Senator Brandes and Representative Diamond for supporting a judicial safety valve – a commonsense solution to a problem long overdue for reform.”

“With the State of Florida housing nearly 100,000 inmates and costing taxpayers nearly $2.4 billion every year, the legislature must address the problematic prison population, and one way to do that is reforming mandatory minimum sentences for  low-level drug offenses,” said Chelsea Murphy, Right on Crime’s Florida state director. “These minimum sentences are often unnecessarily severe, even for those with no prior criminal record.”

“Florida sentences thousands of offenders to unreasonably long prison sentences for illegally possessing or selling small amounts of prescription opioids,” said Lauren Krisai, Director of Criminal Justice Reform at Reason Foundation and author of the JMI policy brief, “Smart on Sentencing: Safety Valve for Florida’s Drug Trafficking Offenses.” “A judicial safety valve would allow courts to divert offenders with substance abuse problems into drug treatment, which is more effective and less expensive than prison.”

“There’s nothing conservative about throwing money away incarcerating nonviolent offenders longer than necessary,” said Sal Nuzzo, Vice President of Policy at The James Madison Institute. “A judicial safety valve doesn’t abolish mandatory minimums; it simply provides flexibility for the courts to punish low-level offenders appropriately. That’s a conservative solution.”

Right on Crime, FAMM, Reason Foundation, and The James Madison Institute support evidence-based reforms to Florida’s criminal justice system. Visit rightoncrime.com/_florida, famm.org, reason.org, and jamesmadison.org for more information.

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