Senator Rob Bradley

MGN Online

Based on two separate Supreme Court decisions, state lawmakers are now tasked with reforming Florida’s juvenile sentencing laws. But, the Senate’s latest revamp is drawing mixed reviews.

According to the federal court decisions from 2010 and 2012, juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or some kind of review. That’s regardless of their crime whether they committed a serious felony or convicted of murder. But Florida’s state laws haven’t caught up.

Christopher Neugebauer

Under Orange Park Republican Senator Rob Bradley’s bill, state and local government offices currently flying U.S. flags made in other counties would have to take those down and buy new ones.

“So, if they have any flags in their possession, then they don’t need to be using them if this were to become law and they can take care of those flags in the manner... there’s certain protocols and rules for how to handle American Flags when they’re done being used,” Bradley said.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Procedural changes are in store for Florida’s criminal justice system. State lawmakers must address the escapes of several felons who used forged court documents to secure their release. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also reviewing its crime lab operations, after the recent arrest of a former chemist suspected of tampering with drug evidence in multiple cases.

Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers say they’re not giving up on a failed effort to address juvenile sentencing reform. They’re responding to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruling juveniles cannot face a life sentence without the possibility of parole, even if they committed a serious felony or murder. But, the legislative effort to do that is contentious as some spar over whether these juveniles deserve a second chance.

Ex-Juvenile Offender Gets Second Chance

When Ellis Curry was 16-years-old, he was convicted of murder and armed robbery.

MGN Online

A bipartisan bill that revises the penalties for trafficking certain prescription drugs cleared its first House committee Wednesday. But, some say the measure is too lenient.

Two bills dealing with how Florida prosecutes and punishes sex offenders passed their first legislative hurdle Monday. One bill deals with statutes of limitations while the other stiffens penalties for sex offenses.

A bill allowing local governments across Florida to ban smoking on playgrounds passed its first Senate committee Thursday. But, some wonder about the bill’s true intention.

Speaking before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee Thursday, Fleming Island Republican Senator Rob Bradley outlined his smoking ban bill.

Florida Channel

A panel of Florida lawmakers moved several bills forward Wednesday attempting to address certain hot-button issues within the state’s criminal justice system from juvenile sentencing to unintended consequences of firing a warning shot. They also confirmed the appointment of Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews, who also gave Senators an update on the prison system.

DOC Secretary Talks Budget Deficit, Prison Health Care Privatization

Florida Senate

A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers has filed a raft of bills for the 2014 legislative session aimed at keeping children safe from sex offenders. The bills would beef up the sentencing and monitoring of sexual predators.

Senate President Don Gaetz calls the package of bills this year’s “centerpiece” and says he looks forward to sending it to Gov. Scott early in the session. 

Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) is sponsoring a bill that would lengthen criminal sentences and monitoring of predators.

MGN Online

There are a number of measures restricting smoking that have already been filed for the Florida’s 2014 legislative session—so far, all aimed at kids. So, what's the driving force behind all these smoking bans?

Florida's Smoking Ban Bills Filed For 2014

Last month, the Senate Regulated Industries committee voted unanimously on the Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto’s proposal to ban minors from buying E-cigarettes.

James Madison Institute

As Florida looks to make sure released inmates don’t return to prison, should the Sunshine state look to other states, like Georgia, to learn about their criminal justice reforms?

Housing about 102,000 inmates, Florida’s prison system is the third-largest in the U.S. According to state economists, that number is projected to increase in the next few years. A contributing factor is the number of released inmates going back to prison. Recently, some, including current and former Florida officials, heard from their counterparts in Georgia about efforts there to reduce recidivism…

Escaped Prisoners Prompt Widening Inquiry

Oct 25, 2013
R.Benk / WFSU-News

A week after two Florida convicts were recaptured after escaping using bogus release documents, authorities still are unsure exactly how or with whom the inmates coordinated their short-lived escape attempts. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is scrambling to ensure more prisoners aren’t on the loose.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker strolled out of the same Franklin Correctional Facility 12 days apart after prison officials received forged release papers. They were recaptured at a Panama City hotel Saturday evening.

Bay County Sheriff's Office

Following the recapture of two Florida inmates who used forged documents to escape prison, the Florida Senate has scheduled a hearing for next month to make sure such a jailbreak is harder to achieve.

Fleming Island Republican Senator Rob Bradley says he wants to conduct a thorough review of what allowed convicted murderers Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker to walk out of prison. Bradley is the head of a Senate Budget committee that looks at criminal justice issues.

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

It could take weeks before a Florida appeals court decides whether to allow the Florida Department of Corrections to move forward with privatizing the prison health care services in several Florida regions. It’s all part of a continuing legal battle between the department and unions representing employees who fear they’ll lose their state jobs.

The Florida Legislature is one step closer to inking out an actual deal for the state’s various clerks of the court budget.  It’s supposed to be more of a permanent fix to a problem that state lawmakers may have created a few years ago.

For many years, the Florida clerks of the courts $445 million dollar budget was funded by county court fines and fees they collected. But, in 2009, the clerks lost what they call their most stable funding source.

Putting juveniles in prison for life whether they committed a homicide or not is a question Florida lawmakers are looking into this session. And, there’s a bill that would limit their maximum sentence to no more than 50 years. But, opponents of that change say it’s unfair to cap it at 50 years when kids will most likely get out when they’re much older than that.

Last year, Florida lawmakers put a new law on the books that expands the requirement for reporting child abuse in the state. But, the measure contained a glitch that resulted in double reports in some cases, and one lawmaker is hoping to fix that.

Florida Channel

A bill banning newly identified synthetic substances used to make drugs, like bath salts, is gaining traction in the Florida Senate. Lawmakers took the matter up in the measure’s first Committee stop Tuesday.

The Offices of the State Attorney and Public Defenders are asking Florida lawmakers to give them funding to increase the salaries of the state’s lawyers. Both offices say they’re experiencing high turnover rates, because of the low pay their attorneys receive.

William Eddins, the State Attorney for the First Judicial Court, says across the state, his office is having trouble keeping attorneys in their jobs.  And he adds those who stay, are generally less experienced.