Florida is all about sunshine and striving to make government as transparent as possible. What better way to continue that legacy than criminal justice data transparency.

Florida’s criminal justice system handles a criminal case from the arrest until the case is closed. Several departments and agencies are involved in the system, each with its own protocols and procedures. Additionally, each of Florida’s 67 counties classify and maintain criminal information differently, creating inconsistency and transparency issues across the state. This makes it very difficult to compare the efficacy of our criminal justice system from county to county.

To combat these issues, this session, SB 1392 was introduced. The policies in this bill will create a one-stop portal that could make Florida a leader in criminal justice data collection and dissemination. Although we are fortunate to have an abundance of research to help policymakers make informed decisions, this legislation will be extremely helpful for years to come. The bill passed both Houses of the legislature and awaits signature from the Governor.

Open data provides transparency and understanding for the public, and that is just the type of sunshine Florida needs. SB 1392 is broken down into two parts, data transparency and pre-arrest diversion.

The Data Transparency portion of the bill creates a model for uniform criminal justice data collection.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Defines terms used in the bill as they relate to data collection;
  • Requires the clerks of court, state attorneys, public defenders, county detention facility administrators, and the Department of Corrections to collect specified data on a biweekly basis and report it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on a monthly basis;
  • Requires the FDLE to publish the data collected on the FDLE’s website and make it searchable and accessible to the public;
  • Provides that any entity that does not comply with the required data collection is ineligible to receive funding from the General Appropriations Act, any state grant program administered by the FDLE, or any other state agency for five years after the date of noncompliance;
  • Requires additional information to be reported in the annual report for pretrial release programs;
  • Digitizes the Criminal Punishment Code sentencing scoresheet;
  • Authorizes a pilot project in the Sixth Judicial Circuit for the purpose of improving criminal justice data transparency; and
  • Appropriates $1,084,116 in nonrecurring funds to the FDLE for the hiring of nine full-time employees for purposes of implementing the data collection requirements of the amendment and to assist in the transition to incident-based crime reporting to meet the requirements of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the National Incident-Based Reporting System.

The pre-arrest diversion portion of SB 1392 permits local communities and educational institutions to adopt a model pre-arrest diversion program for adults. The language provides guidelines for how to establish these programs. It also requires a civil citation or similar pre-arrest diversion program for juveniles to be established in each judicial circuit in the state and outlines criteria that each civil citation must specify in developing such program.

SB 1392 also includes language that relates to the adoption of rules by the FDLE to provide for the expunction of a non-judicial record of the arrest of a minor who has successfully completed a diversion program. It also requires submission of data by each diversion program to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Right on Crime applauds Chairman Sprowls and Senator Brandes for this comprehensive reform package.