Right on Crime’s Director of Prosecutorial Innovation and former U.S. Attorney, Brett Tolman, joined “A Neighbor’s Choice” podcast—co-hosted by our Florida state director Chelsea Murphy, along with David Gornoski—to talk about his tough on crime career and how he now advocates fair and balanced reforms to the justice system.
The discussion starts off by recapping last week’s episode on Alice Marie Johnson, who served 22 years of a life sentence for a first time non-violent drug crime. Her story is no different than many cases in Florida—such as Cynthia Powell, a grandmother who was sentenced to 25 years for selling 35 opioid pills. In both cases, the prosecutors held all the power, leaving their judges with no discretion over the duration of their sentence. As a former prosecutor himself, Tolman mentioned a particular case where a non-violent offender received 75 years for his crime. That case—among others—haunted him, and although he feels confident in sentencing violent criminals with long sentences, many offenses, particularly for drugs or those without any direct victim, require more flexibility.
Gornoski, Murphy, and Tolman also discussed the importance of defending law enforcement, pushing back against recent calls to defund them.