Lower Costs & Less Crime

Criminal & Juvenile Justice Reform Options for Florida

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“Tough on crime” policies of the 1980s and 90s were meant to improve public safety, but recently crime has continued to decline across the nation, even in the face of “softer” approaches to punishment. Florida’s crime rate is no different, but the Sunshine State continues to have one of the largest prison populations in the nation, despite dwindling corrections budgets and diminishing returns to public safety.

Florida can no longer rely on the outdated and inefficient policies of the past, and must begin to consider policies and practices that not only keep Floridians safe, but also address the two primary drivers of growth in the criminal justice system: overincarceration and recidivism. The recommendations detailed in this report, while by no means an exhaustive list of necessary improvements, aim to put Florida on the path to achieve these goals. These recommendations are to:

  • Increase the use of civil citation (or other pre-arrest diversion programs) for youth and adult misdemeanants;
  • Expand the use of forensic mental health diversion programs;
  • Reduce penalties for and divert “driving while license suspended” (DWLS) offenders;
  • Restore judicial discretion for specific mandatory minimum cases;
  • Develop risk/needs assessments and cost-analysis tools to be used at the time of sentencing;
  • Update Florida’s drug possession laws and reduce penalties;
  • Increase the amount of usable gain time for nonviolent inmates;
  • Authorize the possibility of conditional and supervised early release for elderly and infirm inmates;
  • Lengthen the period of eligibility for and expand transitional work-release programs; and
  • Promote strategies that improve released offenders’ employment opportunities

The Author

Elle Piloseno, Research Analyst. Elle is a Research Analyst at Florida TaxWatch, and was the first recipient of the Dr. Neil S. Crispo Fellowship at TaxWatch. She earned a Master’s degree in Criminology from Florida State University, and graduated from Tulane University with a B.S. in Psychology in 2012.

See Elle's full bio

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Media Inquiries:  Contact Leah Courtney by Email or Phone: 850.212.5052

Media Inquiries:
Contact Leah Courtney by Email
or Phone: 850.212.5052