Law enforcement pushes back against proposed criminal justice reforms

By: Capitol News Service
February 18, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Florida sheriffs and police chiefs are pushing back against proposed criminal justice reforms, including a bill that would allow judges to divert from mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases and another that would increase the amount of gain time prisoners could earn to get out early.

Law enforcement leaders unveiled a study which concluded prisoners incarcerated on drug convictions had an average of 36 prior charges and 18 prior convictions.

They also found 85% of the inmates had committed prior violent crimes or burglaries.

“These are the criminals that will potentially end up back in your neighborhoods and communities if some of the legislation that has been proposed passed," Gary Hester of the Florida Police Chiefs Association said. "You know for the life of me I don't see how putting more of these repeat offenders back in our communities, before they're reformed, is going to make our communities safer."

Those supporting the reforms have argued the changes would not apply to repeat offenders or violent felons.

Law enforcement countered that at least one provision, which would set a maximum jail sentence of one year for simple possession, could result in light sentences for some who would otherwise do hard time.

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