Rick Scott Vetoes Early Prison Release Bill

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, FL -- May 23, 2012 --

Florida now has the nation's third-largest prison system...With more than 100,000 inmates.

That's roughly double the size it was 25 years ago, before tough-on-crime lawmakers passed a mandate that prisoners serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.

Now, legislators are re-thinking that mandate, but they're having a tough time overcoming opposition from Governor Scott.

For the Governor, it's a matter of principle. In his mind, convicted criminals owe a debt to society, and the only way to make it up is by doing all of their time. But, lawmakers complain... The Governor is missing the point.

For thousands of Floridians, a life of drug abuse... has turned in to a life behind bars. Here in florida, convicts have to serve 85 percent of their sentence. Lawmakers like Democratic Representative Alan Williams are intent on changing that.

Williams said, "Florida has to be a state that shows compassion, especially for those individuals who have not committed a crime against another individual - they just have an issue, especially in a lot of cases dealing with drugs, that we have to try and figure out, 'how can we rehabilitate them?"

Governor Scott's already vetoed a 2012 bill that would've allowed for early release. Non-violent drug offenders who've served at least half their sentence could have been transferred to a drug treatment program.
Scott is concerned letting convicts out early might hurt public safety.
And critics point out...The program he killed could only have handled around 300 inmates.

Frank Messersmith of the Florida Sheriff's Association says, "You're not focusing enough on doing the things to stop the recidivism based on drug abuse. You need to create the programs. If only 20 percent of all the prisoners that are eligible can find this treatment, it does no good to have the program."

Early release advocates aren't giving up. They plan to be back with a new bill in 2013, along with a new focus on winning over Governor Scott.

Right now, Florida taxpayers spend well over two billion dollars a year on the prison system. The bill's backers say letting non-violent offenders out early could shave hundreds of millions off that price tag, depending how broad the effort is.

The early released bill passed the state senate unanimously. Just four members of the Republican-controlled state house voted 'no'.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by duh Location: Tallahassee on Jun 4, 2012 at 01:45 PM
    If you can't do the time, don't do the crime
  • by Grainer Location: Tallahassee on May 27, 2012 at 06:44 AM
    With the Sheriff adding points to people's records with campaign tactics to look tough on crime. Our Sheriff is part of the problem with programs like operation "Trident." This is typical of the Republican Sheriff with a (D) by his name working with the republican Governor. He needs to go and in August, voters will speak their minds!
  • by Zebrs on May 25, 2012 at 10:02 PM
    Follow the money folks. The targeted inmates that would have been in this program are the only ones PRIVATE prisons take.
  • by Zebrs on May 25, 2012 at 10:02 PM
    Follow the money folks. The targeted inmates that would have been in this program are the only ones PRIVATE prisons take.
  • by Anonymous Location: Gia on May 25, 2012 at 03:23 AM
    My son has been lock up since he was 17 years old they gave him 10 years in prison for riding in the car with his friends that took a white lady's car that was from out of town they did stab her beat her shoot her take her as hostage they didn't rape her one of the boy's hit her over her shoulder with a tire iron didn't bruise her she didn't go to the hospital for treatment she was fine my son never got out of the car but because he was there and told them the truth that he was there they gave him 10 years he graduated high school an had a job an two parent's in the home an has to do 85% of the 10 year's before he can come home
  • by common sensefor rick scott to be on May 24, 2012 at 06:30 PM
    rick scott has to be the dumdess governer ever everbody that in jail is not a criminal drug addicts get more time than murderer do commom sense would tell you reform come from being rehabilitated , but if you treat a person like and animal feed them like and animal keep them cage like and animal what do you think they will be when they get out .you got to take care of their kids and family on the taxpayer back free this people sitting in jail for smoking weed. dam everboby smoke weed or drank wasting money and time they smoke more weed in jail so you might as well let them out on thier own time and money
  • by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM
    Florida is the 4th largest state by population. I don't see a huge problem with Florida being number 3. If Florida was 50th by population, then there might be a problem!
  • by ME on May 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM
    Private prisons need prisoners. Without them, no business. Look for another doubling of prisoners in the next 5 years. I'm gonna buy stock in the prison industry.
  • by MECQ on May 24, 2012 at 12:42 PM
    He surely will not be reelected and his company stands to attain huge monetary gains from the prison population. First from the privitaztion of the penal system, and the medical care granted the incarcerated. So his aim is purely personal.
  • by the us gives 10 somali pirates life Location: usa on May 24, 2012 at 11:44 AM
    like that is going to stop them. thank you tax payers for a life 1000 times better than we had.
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