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PUBLICATIONS

Florida

On Tuesday, March 22, 2011, the Right on Crime campaign launched in Florida with support from the following Right on Crime signatories: former state Attorney General Richard Doran, Dominic Calabro of Florida TaxWatch, and Bob McClure of the James Madison Institute. In September of 2011, former Florida governor Jeb Bush signed onto Right on Crime’s statement of principles and has continued to be a driving force for the Florida initiative.

In 2017, Right on Crime hired Chelsea Murphy as a full-time State Director to advocate for conservative criminal justice reform policies for the Sunshine State. Chelsea currently works and resides in Tallahassee, Florida.

Recent Reforms

In 2018, the legislature passed and the governor signed a comprehensive reform package (SB 1392), which will create a one-stop portal that could make Florida a leader in criminal justice data collection and dissemination. It provides for data transparency and pre-arrest diversion.

The data transparency portion is a especially needed as Florida hosts several departments and agencies, each with its own protocols and procedures. Until this year, each of Florida’s 67 counties classify and maintain criminal information differently, which has created inconsistency and transparency issues across the state. This has made it very difficult to compare the efficacy of the criminal justice system from county to county.

Here is a summary of the 2018 reforms:

– Requires administrators to collect specified data biweekly and report it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) monthly.

– Requires FDLE to publish this data and make it searchable and accessible to the public.

– Requires additional information to be reported in the annual report for pretrial release programs.

– Authorizes a pilot project in the Sixth Judicial Circuit for the purpose of improving criminal justice data transparency.

– Funds the hiring of nine employees for data collection and to ensure compliance with FBI and the National Incident-based Reporting System.

– Creates pre-arrest diversion program for adults.

– Calls for the creation of a pre-arrest diversion program for juveniles in each judicial circuit.

– Calls for expunction of a non-judicial record of a minor’s arrest who has successfully completed a diversion program.

State of the Criminal Justice System

As of March 2018 the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) houses 96,156 inmates in 145 prison facilities. The growth in Florida’s prison population is not attributable to the state’s overall population growth. From 1970 through 2009, Florida experienced significant growth – a 2.7-fold growth in its population. But during that same period, the prison population grew 11.4-fold.

85.9% of all inmates are in major institutions while the rest are currently residing in annexes, work camps, work release centers, and road prisons. This is a 348.6% increase since 1978, and is costing taxpayers over $3 billion annually.

Although new prison admissions have been on the decline since 2007, over the same time period, the length of prison sentences and the percentage of felony cases that result in incarceration has both increased considerably, resulting in a fairly steady prison population. Of the most frequent crimes that result in prison admission in 2016, the top eight would be considered nonviolent.[1]

Part of the issue with Florida’s rising prison population is the wide application of mandatory minimum sentences. In 2016, 37 percent of offenders in Florida prisons were sentenced under a mandatory minimum or enhancement. Stiff sentencing schemes and high imprisonment rates is not leading to better public safety. Based upon the latest cohort (2013) 25.4% of offenders leaving Florida prisons returns within three years.

 

[1] Burglary of a dwelling/occupied structure/conveyance; Possession of a controlled substance (3rd degree); Sale/manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance (2nd degree); Traffic in stolen property; felon/delinquent with gun/concealed weapon/ammunition; Burglary of an unoccupied structure/conveyance-or attempted; trafficking in controlled substance (1st degree); Grand theft.

“Conservative Group Continues Push for Criminal Justice Reform”

Right on Crime | April 23, 2014
“Right on Crime aims at reform on both the federal and state levels. The underlying idea is to use prisons for people who would harm society, not for non-violent…

Bill Reforming Florida’s Juvenile Justice System Has Some Calling For More Reform

Right on Crime | February 25, 2014
Bob McClure, ROC signatory and president of the James Madison Institute, “applauds the effort” of Florida’s bill to reform juvenile justice, but believes that more can be done. “We…

James Madison Institute “A Tale of Two States”

Right on Crime | October 2, 2013
On September 24, The James Madison Institute hosted a forum in partnership with The Florida State University’s Project on Accountable Justice and St. Petersburg College Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to…

Reason Magazine mentions our work

Right on Crime | March 26, 2013
This morning on Fox News Sunday Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave his most extensive answer yet on how he feels about U.S. drug laws. The short version: He doesn’t endorse…

The Conservative Case Against More Prisons

Right on Crime | March 18, 2013
Our policy experts Vikrant Reddy and Marc Levin wrote an excellent piece recently for The American Conservative magazine. It’s entitled, “The Conservative Case Against More Prisons” and appeared in…

Florida Seeks to Increase Juvenile Diversions

Right on Crime | February 4, 2013
Across Florida, municipalities are saving millions and keeping youth who do not need formal processing out of the system through the use of civil citations. Civil citations are eligible…

Event in St. Pete – Does Incarceration Reduce Crime?

Right on Crime | February 1, 2013
If you live in the Tampa/St. Pete area, please join us for this upcoming event! Prison Forum #1 – Does Incarceration Reduce Crime? Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 6-8 PM…

Engulfed by Environmental Crimes

Right on Crime | January 28, 2013
The Texas Public Policy Foundation recently released a report on overcriminalization which I co-authored with my Right On Crime colleague, Marc Levin. The report, titled Engulfed by Environmental Crimes:…

Florida Could Limit Prison Growth by Turning to its Drug Courts

Right on Crime | October 26, 2012
The first drug court in the United States was formed in Miami-Dade County in 1989. Since then, Florida has increased that number to 106 drug courts, with at least…

Tampa Targets Juvenile First-Timers

Right on Crime | August 30, 2012
Just six years ago, Hillsborough County and its county seat, Tampa, led the state in the number of juveniles arrested for nonviolent or minor offenses. County commissioners were dismayed…

Sentencing Serious Juvenile Offenders

Right on Crime | June 14, 2012
An interesting new report released on Michigan juvenile offenders reveals that most states do not use juvenile life-without-parole (“JLWOP”) sentencing. The few that do use it, however, use it…

A New Re-entry Program for Florida?

Right on Crime | April 3, 2012
In a bill recently passed by both chambers of the state legislature, Florida may have hit upon an effective way to combat high recidivism rates. The bill, now awaiting...…
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