Prison reform in Florida – new study shows the impact of jailing users
Bottom Line: Overcrowding in prisons isn’t a new issue in Florida or just about anywhere else for that matter. While recent reforms, including a Constitutional Amendment passed last November have worked towards generally reducing sentences for criminals, especially non-violent criminals, there’s still a huge elephant in the room and the James Madison Institute just highlighted it.
While I’m a rules guy and don’t believe in lawlessness, I’ve also never understood the benefit of jailing users. Users have problems that aren’t likely to be fixed behind bars and in the meantime, they consume enormous resources. If we dramatically ramped up penalties for dealers while reducing the penalties for users, we’d likely be working to curb illegal drug consumption and addiction rates while also freeing up resources in Florida.
According to a new James Madison Institute study,Florida spends $100 million annually in expense due to our mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for users arrested for possession. It looks like a good starting point for a conversation about next steps for reforms in our state. If we ramped up the sentences for dealers, reduced sentencing for users and instead applied that $100 million+ to diversion/rehab programs – think we’d be better off?