Florida Smart Justice Alliance


A couple of juvenile justice-related bills are now moving in the Florida House and Senate.

The Florida Channel

A bill that would give juveniles more leniency passed its second Senate committee Wednesday. But law enforcement officials don’t want it to pass.

MGN Online

A bill reforming mental health within Florida’s criminal justice system is continuing to move in the House and Senate.

Florida Channel

The head of the Florida Department of Corrections received unanimous approval during her second Senate confirmation hearing. Her initial hearing occurred in November.

MGN Online

Florida lawmakers are slated to take up a measure Wednesday reforming mental health care within the state’s criminal justice system.

Dan Bannister / iStockphoto

Prison reform may be officially dead this session, but prison reform advocates remain hopeful there will be some meaningful reform for Florida’s troubled prison system.


Several bills aimed at reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system cleared another hurdle in the House 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?


Bringing stability and consistency to the troubled Florida Department of Corrections is at the forefront of several lawmakers’ and prison reform stakeholders’ minds as the 2015 legislative session draws near. And, the discussion may start at the top.

That’s especially after Governor Rick Scott still has to name a permanent head to lead the troubled agency—after Scott’s third Florida Department of Corrections’ Secretary recently resigned.

Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers are reconsidering a failed legislative effort last year aimed at reducing the chances of former inmates coming back into the state’s prison system. But, while most consider getting ex-inmates on the path to getting a job and a house a good thing, others say some parts of the bill need more work.

Identification Cards

Florida Channel

A group of Florida senators unanimously passed a bill Monday that aims to make life easier for ex-inmates upon their release from prison.

Upon their release from prison, Altamonte Springs Republican Senator David Simmons says it’s difficult for many inmates to get an ID card.  And, he says making it easier would lower recidivism. Under his bill, Florida-born inmates can get an ID card as well as a copy of their birth certificate upon their release.

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.

A Republican-backed proposal to reduce the number of former inmates going back into Florida’s prisons is now taking shape in the form of a bill. But, some unions and even some Republicans may not be on board with the “Smart Justice” idea.

Republican Senator Thad Altman of Melbourne says the state can do more to help non-violent offenders who leave the prison system.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

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.