Rick Scott Vetoes Early Prison Release Bill

Rick Scott Vetoes Early Prison Release Bill

Florida now has the nation’s third-*largest prison system…With more than one-hundred-thousand inmates. That’s roughly double the size it was 25 years ago, before tough-on-crime lawmakers passed a mandate that prisoners serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Now, legislators are re-thinking that mandate, but they’re having a tough time overcoming opposition from Governor Scott.

Reporter: Troy Kinsey      Email Address: news@wctv.tv


Tallahassee, FL — May 23, 2012 —

Florida now has the nation’s third-largest prison system…With more than 100,000 inmates.

Now, legislators are re-thinking that mandate, but they’re having a tough time overcoming opposition from Governor Scott.

For the Governor, it’s a matter of principle. In his mind, convicted criminals owe a debt to society, and the only way to make it up is by doing all of their time. But, lawmakers complain… The Governor is missing the point.

For thousands of Floridians, a life of drug abuse… has turned in to a life behind bars. Here in florida, convicts have to serve 85 percent of their sentence. Lawmakers like Democratic Representative Alan Williams are intent on changing that.

Williams said, “Florida has to be a state that shows compassion, especially for those individuals who have not committed a crime against another individual – they just have an issue, especially in a lot of cases dealing with drugs, that we have to try and figure out, ‘how can we rehabilitate them?”

Governor Scott’s already vetoed a 2012 bill that would’ve allowed for early release. Non-violent drug offenders who’ve served at least half their sentence could have been transferred to a drug treatment program. Scott is concerned letting convicts out early might hurt public safety. And critics point out…The program he killed could only have handled around 300 inmates.

Frank Messersmith of the Florida Sheriff’s Association says, “You’re not focusing enough on doing the things to stop the recidivism based on drug abuse. You need to create the programs. If only 20 percent of all the prisoners that are eligible can find this treatment, it does no good to have the program.”

Early release advocates aren’t giving up. They plan to be back with a new bill in 2013, along with a new focus on winning over Governor Scott.

Right now, Florida taxpayers spend well over two billion dollars a year on the prison system. The bill’s backers say letting non-violent offenders out early could shave hundreds of millions off that price tag, depending how broad the effort is.

The early released bill passed the state senate unanimously. Just four members of the Republican-controlled state house voted ‘no’.

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5 Comments on “Rick Scott Vetoes Early Prison Release Bill”

  1. Phae Says:

    I feel this bill should of been passed a long time ago. Scott is really not thinking at all and like stated before he is not looking at the big picture. The state keep crying about being broke but, this bill would really help save unneccessary funds that tax payers are paying out. I mean let’s be realistic here Scott ! What more can those non-violent offenders do to the public that’s not already being done daily while the violent offenders are out here free? Don’t get me wrong, I am a criminal justice graduate that do not agree with crime but we sometimes have to think outside the box and use common sense with each case individually. We already have overcrowded prisons in the state, short handed on staff and even continuing to close down prisons. So if you’re cutting down on space and jobs, what sense do it make to keep a large number of inmates (non-violent)? Scott, please think before you speak and take action!


  2. Kathleen Hayes Says:

    Elderly inmates who have served lengthy sentences for non-violent crimes, are unnecessarily draining the Economy of the State. An inmate over 60, who had been dealing Marijuana 25 years ago, is not a threat to Public Safety. As long as there were no victims, no violence, no weapons, in the inmate’s conviction, 25 years in prison, for a non-violent crime is punishment enough. These inmates would be the LEAST likely to re-offend. Having been off the streets for a quarter of a Century, they are outdated. Let them go HOME. Gov. Scott, there is Justice, then, there is VENGEANCE. Think about it, please!


  3. d.m.stewart Says:

    I was a guest two weeks ago at Raiford for a graduation for 14 non violent inmates receiving their High School Diploma. We saw grown men cry and their families and friends cry with them. Those inmates thanked the Dept. of Education in first order. I must say our state needs to do something fast. Our prison system does not have the funding needed to continue at the current rate of occupancy . My discussions at the prison led to funding and it would scare all to know there is little to spread in any direction. I think inmates who show an aptitude to move forward like these men did deserve at least a look at early release. This system is very strained. I have to say praise for those who work for the states prisons but they are limited in what they can achieve with like of funding and overcrowding. My thoughts are , no one needs to be at Raiford as a non violent inmate for more than six months unless they fail to achieve some level of academic or vocational success. Funding needs to increase not just for building new walls but investing in our success not just the inmates but all of Florida.


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