State Director, Florida
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Chelsea Murphy | December 4, 2017
On Monday, December, 4th the Senate Criminal Justice Committee will take up two bills (SB 602 & SB 694) that allow judicial discretion on certain drug trafficking offenses. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to judicial safety valves:
In FY 2015, Florida’s mandatory minimum drug laws cost Florida taxpayers $106 million. With the state of Florida housing nearly 100,000 inmates and costing taxpayers nearly $2.4 billion every year, the legislature must address the burgeoning prison population. A smart, safe, and proven way to do that is reforming mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses. These minimum sentences often do not match the underlying offense, and often apply to those with no prior criminal record.
There are major misconceptions on the efficacy of mandatory minimums and what the discretion of elected judges will and will not mean when applying them. Here is a helpful guide to clear these up.
Myth vs. Facts:
 Project on Accountable Justice’s 2017 Report, “Florida Criminal Justice Reform: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities.” The figure was extrapolated from Florida Department of Corrections’ 2015 annual cost per diem for inmates in prison for mandatory minimum drug sentences.
 Florida Department of Corrections 2017 Annual Budget