TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Statement on President Obama's commutation of 11 Floridians' federal prison sentences from Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research group and government watchdog.
Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch: "This week, President Obama announced the commutation of 46 nonviolent federal offenders, offering them a second chance. Eleven of these offenders who will be released early from their prison sentences are Floridians who have a unique opportunity to re-assimilate into their communities and become productive taxpaying citizens in the Sunshine State.
"These lengthy prison sentences for low-level offenders were unnecessarily harsh - not only for the offenders, but also for the taxpayers. At the end of their prison sentences, which are scheduled for November 10, 2015, the Florida offenders will have served anywhere from 10 to 25 years for nonviolent offenses. Over incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders, such as these inmates, provides little to no public benefit to community safety, but results in astronomical costs.
Robert Weissert, Senior Vice President of Research and General Counsel for Florida TaxWatch: "Much like at the federal level, Florida's criminal justice policies have caused the state prison population to explode, resulting in exorbitant costs despite reaching 40 year crime lows. The Florida TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice seeks to improve community safety and reduce recidivism in the Sunshine State by researching and recommending policies to lower taxpayer burden in a bloated criminal justice system.
"As Florida lawmakers look for options to reduce the state burden for prisons and continue to make Sunshine State streets safer, they must ensure the punishment fits the crime. The 2014 Legislature wisely reduced sentences for nonviolent drug offenders charged with possession of oxycodone and hydrocodone, following a Florida TaxWatch recommendation. In 2016, policymakers should build upon those reforms by revisiting all nonviolent drug sentencing and reduce the mandatory minimums for these offenses."
Recent sentencing recommendations from Florida TaxWatch:
A State of Incarceration: Florida's Crime and Incarceration Over Time
Overcriminalization in Florida
Sentencing for Oxycodone and Hydrocodone Offenses