Smart Justice reforms

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Making sure released inmates don’t come back to prison is a main goal for prison reform advocates not only on the federal level, but the state level as well. Florida, in recent years, has tried and failed to implement a series of prison reforms, particularly aimed at drug offenders.  But, that won’t deter those same advocates from bringing back those same reforms next year.

Mandatory Minimums

The Senate version of an inmate re-entry bill looks a little different now. In some Florida lawmakers own words, it was essentially gutted at its second committee stop Thursday—A move that even took the bill’s sponsor by surprise. While the measure still cleared a Criminal Justice budget panel, it wound up pitting Republicans against Republicans.

It was Republican versus Republican in the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday, when it came to vetting an inmate re-entry bill sponsored by Republican Senator Thad Altman.

A Florida House panel has cleared a bill that seeks to keep non-violent offenders from re-offending and going back to prison. But, while most provisions had much approval, the discussion later devolved into a matter between public vs. private operation of the inmate re-entry facilities.

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Lowering the chances of former inmates going back to prison is the goal of a new proposal filed in the Florida Legislature. State lawmakers are partnering with business backed group, Florida Smart Justice Alliance, to rehabilitate nonviolent inmates to reduce the number of crimes.

When an inmate gets released from prison, the general assumption is they normally get $50 and a bus ticket and are thrown out into society.  But, under a new proposal, lawmakers are aiming to change that for eligible non-violent offenders serving the last few years of their sentence.

Florida lawmakers are looking into a proposed initiative to rehabilitate non-violent inmates before they have a chance to reoffend. But, while many agree about the idea behind what’s called “Smart Justice reforms,” they’re not too happy with what the name implies.

“Why should the state spend billions of dollars to keep prisoners locked up, knowing that many of them have serious issues that need to be resolved and yet, were doing little to address these problems," asked Barney Bishop, the President and CEO of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance.