19th Mar 2019
As a criminal defense attorney in Miami Dade, it is important to keep an eye on new laws and initiatives that are aimed at reducing potential sentences or decriminalizes minor drug offenses. Congress adopted a criminal justice reform measure that enjoys widespread bipartisan support and the support of President Trump. Florida’s First Step Act incorporates the best ideas of this measure. A criminal defense attorney in Miami Dade can explain how the proposed rules can potentially affect criminal defendants if the bill is passed into law.
Florida lawmakers are realizing the effects of previous hard line laws passed in the 1990s, which have resulted in an increase in the state prison system by 29 percent over the last two decades. Florida has the third largest prison population in the country. This increased population has resulted in a significant increase in costs to support the state corrections facilities, from $1.5 billion ten years ago to $2.4 billion currently. The Florida Department of Corrections’ 2020 budget is seeking an additional $330 million, which is three times as much as was allocated to it in 2019.
One measure of the bill will address more than 100 mandatory minimum sentencing requirements to help reduce the prison population. Other initiatives include allowing a judge discretion in nonviolent drug offenses and allowing the chief judge of each circuit to enter an administrative order to allow for a risk assessment in pretrial release considerations so that they can be monitored electronically and through other means instead of being jailed if they cannot afford bail. Re-entry services that help reduce crime and slash probation costs are also being considered.
The 2019 legislative session will begin March 5 when lawmakers can consider many new laws that are being proposed.