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. We applaud their proposed reforms to Florida’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. 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. These minimum sentences are often unnecessarily severe, even for those with no prior criminal record.
A judicial safety valve would allow courts to divert offenders with substance abuse issues into drug treatment, which we know is more effective and less expensive than prison. Providing discretion to the courts does not dissolve mandatory minimums, it just merely allows flexibility in very specific circumstances.
We congratulate Senator Brandes and Representative Diamond for filing conservative, thoughtful reform that keeps public safety at the utmost importance!