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4th Annual Justice Summit Aimed At Helping Nonviolent Offenders Kicks Off Monday


A number of criminal justice stakeholders are set to converge in Sarasota Monday to kick off a three-day summit to work on innovative ways to reduce recidivism in Florida’s prison system.

It’s the 4th annual Justice Summit presented by the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, and many criminal justice enthusiasts are expected to participate, including Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala). So, why should everyday Floridians care?

“Of the 100,000 plus inmates in the state’s prison system, 87 percent of those in the next five years will be back home,” explained Baxley. “They’ll be your neighbors, they’ll be at Wal-Mart with you, they’ll be living next door to you, they’re kids will be going to school with you. It’s important that we grasp that we truly want the Florida Department of Corrections to function as a place where we make a correction with those that we can.”

The summit is bipartisan, and will include different panel discussions from how to give abusers a second chance, looking into Low THC marijuana, and the effect of faith-based programs on inmates’ recovery.

Barney Bishop says he’s excited for all the speakers, including keynote speaker, Susan Pamerleau. He’s the President of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, which has spearheaded several initiatives aimed at helping nonviolent offenders successfully re-enter society.

“We’re going to have speakers from other states. Our keynote speaker is the first woman to ever be Sheriff in San Antonio, Texas—the 7th largest city in America,” said Bishop. “She also was the first woman to ever be a general in the United States Air Force and she’s going to be talking to us about some of the initiatives that are Smart Justice affiliated that she’s doing in San Antonio.”

This year’s agenda focuses on rethinking the way state and local officials deal with nonviolent criminal offenders. In addition to criminal justice stakeholders like judges, attorneys, and law enforcement, Bishop says more than 200 policymakers are expected to attend.

The event kicks off Monday at 10 a.m. and ends Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.