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Right on Crime, Lawmakers & Conservative Coalition Address Badly Needed Criminal Justice Reform in State of Florida

| November 15, 2017

Tallahassee, Fla. – Right on Crime, joined by Florida lawmakers and a coalition of conservative public policy organizations, today addressed critical criminal justice reform measures needed in the State of Florida. At the press conference, a poll, demonstrating a majority of registered Florida voters support a number of smart justice reforms, was also unveiled.

“Right on Crime is a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy, and we’re focused on reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government and save taxpayers money,” said Chelsea Murphy, state director of Right on Crime. “The criminal justice reform measures that have already been filed for the 2018 Legislative Session – proposing a judicial safety valve and increasing the property theft threshold – embody Right on Crime’s core principles, and we thank these lawmakers for their efforts and look forward to a healthy discussion on these badly needed reforms for Florida.”

“These reforms, raising the property theft threshold and putting a judicial safety valve in place, will accomplish two things – they will save Florida taxpayers millions of dollars and they will improve public safety,” said Sal Nuzzo, vice president of Policy at The James Madison Institute. “We know this because in states where they have been tried, success has followed – both in the short-term via reductions in crime rates, and in the long-term via reductions in incarceration and the social costs of lower employability, safety net reliance and poverty.”

Standing in support of Florida Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Representative Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg), who filed legislation to reform the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws by instituting a judicial safety valve, and Florida Senator Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) and Representative Byron Donalds (R-Naples), who have filed legislation to increase Florida’s outdated property theft threshold, at the press conference were representatives from a broad coalition of conservative public policy organizations, including Right on Crime, Reason Foundation, The James Madison Institute, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Florida TaxWatch and Freedom Partners.
A poll was also unveiled at the press conference that demonstrates a majority of registered Florida voters support a number of smart justice reforms. Key findings of the poll include:

1. Roughly 3 in 4 registered voters and GOP voters support ending the practice of suspending drivers’ licenses for failure to pay court fees or fines when the person can prove an inability to pay and agrees to do community service.
2. Nearly three-quarters or more of both voter universes support encouraging counties to create civil citation programs that would allow police officers to give citations that include fines and/or community service instead of making arrests for various misdemeanors.
3. Two-thirds or more of both voter groups support allowing Florida state judges to cut three- and five-year mandatory minimum sentences by up to two-thirds for first-time drug offenders when they believe the mandatory sentence is inappropriate based on the crime committed.
4. A solid majority of both voter universes support raising the minimum monetary threshold that qualifies as a felony from $300 to $1,500.

“Right on Crime funded this poll to show voters and legislators that Floridians across all geographies and demographics support genuine criminal justice reform,” continued Murphy. “Key takeaways from this poll demonstrate that registered voters overwhelmingly believe the primary purpose of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate and not punish criminals. Additionally, it shows that despite the range of opinions voters have on the criminal justice system, both voter groups readily embrace the four proposed reforms tested.”

“As the poll results indicate, sizable majorities of Floridians agree that our laws need to change and that our policymakers need to act,” said Nuzzo. “This is not only common-sense policy, but it is also common-sense politics.”

The poll, which was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and commissioned by Right on Crime, surveyed 800 registered voters statewide, plus an oversample of 600 registered Republican voters in late October 2017 with a margin of sampling error for 800 registered voters at ±3.46 percent and for 600 registered Republican voters at ±4 percent. To view the poll’s finding in full, click here.

“We are thrilled this poll confirms our beliefs that voters across the ideological spectrum all support commonsense criminal justice reform,” concluded Murphy.
Right on Crime, Reason Foundation, The James Madison Institute, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Florida TaxWatch and Freedom Partners support evidence-based reforms to Florida’s criminal justice system.

Visit rightoncrime.com/_florida, reason.org, jamesmadison.org, famm.org, floridataxwatch.org and freedompartners.org for more information.

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RIGHT ON CRIME is a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy—reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money. By sharing research and policy ideas and mobilizing strong conservative voices, we work to raise awareness of the growing support for effective reforms within the conservative movement. We are transforming the debate on criminal justice in America.

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