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New Poll Shows Floridians See Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice Reforms As Important

James Madison Institute

Florida lawmakers should take a comprehensive approach to reforming the state’s criminal justice system. That’s according to a new poll by a free market think-tank.

The poll by the James Madison Institute and the Charles Koch Institute surveyed 1,500. It shows close to 75 percent of Floridians agree criminal justice reform is important and the prison population is costly. JMI’s VP of Policy Sal Nuzzo says most respondents also agree ex-felons should be able to get licenses to work.

“That’s something that JMI works aggressively on, like occupational licensing reform,” said Nuzzo. “Those are the type of things—kind of the connection to offenders coming out—the public is very much in favor of lowering those barriers to entry and getting these folks employed and becoming productive members of society.”

Most participants also agree prisons should focus more on rehabilitation than punishment and that too many non-violent offenders are in prison.

The poll also highlighted the need for continued juvenile justice reforms.

JMI will try again to change some of Florida’s juvenile justice laws. Nuzzo says it involves the process in which children are tried as adults for certain crimes. That decision lies with prosecutors, but Nuzzo adds it should be up to a judge.

“Over 60 percent feel that the judge in a circuit should have the discretion and so, we’re definitely hopeful and feel like that level of public opinion will definitely be felt in the legislative process when legislators are considering a policy reform to that process,” he added.

A proposal to enact that change failed this year.

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

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.