Florida Gov. Rick Scott is up for re-election in November, at which point he will face now-Democratic challenger former Gov. Charlie Crist in a battle over the top political position in the Sunshine State. Clearly, the Governor has a lot to deliberate and attend to, but our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense attorneys believe he hasn’t devoted enough time to considering changes to existing sentencing laws.
Gov. Scott is in the midst of touring the state, with campaign stops in cities such as Tampa, Orlando and Miami, in an effort to reaffirm his “stay the course” strategy with regard to the current legal reguirement that prisoners (even non-violent ones) must serve at least 85% of their sentence. Scott promised voters that, if he is re-elected, he will not change his position on the issue.
Scott’s position, highlighted by the fact that he vetoed a bill in 2012 that would have cut prison sentences for non-violent offenders and placed them in drug rehabilitation programs, adds fuel to the raging fire that is our broken prison system.
That Florida’s prison system is in shambles is nothing new — they’re overcrowded, they encourage recidivism, and many of them are actually built, owned and operated by for-profit corporations. These highly profitable companies have contracts with the government of the State of Florida, as they do with states all over the country, thereby turning a so-called “correctional system” into one that treats human beings like commodities.
It is absolutely in the best interests of the for-profit prison-building corporations to have maximum occupancy rates in their prisons, just as the owner of an apartment complex gets a pat on the back from the CEO of the development company when the apartment building reaches maximum occupancy. The fact that all of this is true doesn’t make it any more right. The entire notion behind correctional facilities is predicated on the idea that individuals who have committed offenses against society can be placed in a rehabilitative facility that can prepare them for successful re-entry into facility. This entire idea is dispelled, though, when we recognize that overstuffing our prisons with individuals who don’t benefit from being there just increases the likelihood that said individuals will return to a life of crime.
What exactly is the benefit of requiring individuals to serve at least 85% of their sentence in prison? As our Palm Beach and Broward County cirminal defense lawyers know, many of the laws on the books today are outdated and disproportionately target certain sectors of society more than others. Why not allow offenders who committed drug crimes, but who actually suffer from the disease of addiction, to spend some of their prisons sentence in a drug rehabilitation facility? This would give them the chance to address the actual problem that leads to what the state sees as pure crime; if their addictions were to be treated, the likelihood that they would continue doing drugs would plummet.
For now, unfortunately, your original sentence is a good indicator of the amount of time you’ll actually have to spend in prison, which is why it is imperative that you retain competent legal counsel before your initial trial. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert; to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363).