Smart Justice for a Safer Florida
  • Press Release: Smart Justice Legislation Continues to Advance Through Legislature as House Justice Appropriations Approves

    April 9, 2013

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the third time in as many tries, Florida’s Smart Justice package won overwhelming approval today from a legislative panel, as the House Justice Appropriations subcommittee passed the measure by a 13-0 margin. The measure has previously been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, and is moving promptly through both chambers.

    The legislation (HB 7121) will expand in-prison and community-based behavioral health care treatment services for non-violent 3rd degree felons who don’t traffic or sell narcotics; help ensure that Florida-born inmates leave prison with an ID card or the information needed to secure one; and encourage the Department of Corrections to increase faith- and character-based services to inmates.

    Department of Corrections statistics show that 43 percent of inmates entering the prison system each year are reoffenders, yet fewer than one-fourth of released inmates received substance abuse or mental health counseling that could have helped them live law-abiding lives after their release. By working to break this pattern, the Smart Justice legislation will reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and save tax dollars. It does not alter the requirement that prisoners serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before being eligible for release.

    Of the 100,000 inmates in Florida prisons, 40,000 are non-violent drug abusers who cost taxpayers more than $700 million each year. According to DOC statistics, private sector community-based drug treatment has a recidivism rate of 18 percent, nearly half of the DOC recidivism rate.  These compelling statistics are at the heart of Smart Justice, which is committed to finding ways to spend tax dollars more intelligently in order to produce the outcomes taxpayers expect.

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