If you or a loved one have any experience from inside the Florida prison system, you already know how volatile the situation is. Correctional facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, creating situations that are often dangerous and, as many believe, unjust and, in some cases, inhumane.
Recent national and global events have brought these conditions home to some lawmakers who are trying to pass a series of bills to reform the failing criminal justice system in the state. While it is not likely that such reforms will happen overnight, the desperate environment in many state prisons may prompt lawmakers to move quickly to find solutions.
Slow but sure progress
Over the past year, many in the country have dealt with lockdowns and quarantines because of a highly contagious virus. In prison, you or your loved one were also in lockdown but may not have had the same access to medical care, personal protective equipment or even a safe place to avoid infection. This is only one factor that has raised valid questions about the state of the prisons across Florida. Some of the changes lawmakers are considering include the following:
- Reducing penalties for marijuana possession and repealing some mandatory minimum sentences for other drug offenses
- Clarifying and protecting your basic rights as an inmate, such as adequate food and access to basic hygiene supplies
- Increasing eligibility for parole, including for those serving long sentences
- Granting prosecutors the option of reconsidering long sentences that no longer seem just
- Lowering the amount of time served before you can seek release for good behavior
- Instituting options for releasing those inmates who are elderly or ill, particularly those with highly contagious conditions, terminal diseases or incapacitating illnesses
- Considering the repeal of the 10-20-life law that sets mandatory minimums that are often inappropriate for certain crimes or situations
- Offering programs to motivate you and other inmates to participate in rehabilitation, educational offerings and other options to prepare to return to society
Some suggestions for these programs include helping you obtain a professional license that may improve your chances of finding meaningful, gainful employment after your release.
Unfortunately, not every public official supports these reforms, especially those that allow for early release.
Nevertheless, the few lawmakers who are fighting for these and other changes are not deterred, and their numbers are growing. This may encourage you to remain hopeful that you may be able to look forward to a brighter future.
If you have questions regarding sentencing and prison issues in Florida, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The law firm of S. Patrick Dray, PA, has a lot of success in reversing or vacating convictions by filing motions for post-conviction relief.