Friday, February 24, 2017


Florida has 118 state crimes that trigger tough minimum mandatory sentences, which is close but not yet outdone by the 145 federal criminal laws that have harsh minimum mandatory sentences. Minimum mandatory sentences are an unfair punishment because they take away the sentencing judge's discretion to make the best sentencing decisions. This is especially true for the many Florida drug crimes that result in arrest such as possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone, prescription pain pills, prescription fraud, steroids, xanax, hydrocodone and codeine. 

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Possession of only a small amount of any of these drugs can trigger a minimum mandatory term of many years imprisonment ruining the lives of not only the defendant, but his family, friends and loved ones. Drug charges are inherently nonviolent felonies that should not result in arrest or jail sentences. Even cases that involve the sale of drugs should not result in long prison sentences. Yet in Florida sale or possession of even the smallest quantities of illicit drugs can require judges to give harsh punishment of years of prison.

Recently a group of conservative and liberal Florida lawmakers unanimously agreed to send a prison diversion bill out of committee for a vote in the Senate. The goal of the bill is to end minimum mandatory sentences in Florida for nonviolent offenses and to give Florida judges the discretion they need to create fair sentences with better sentencing options.

As citizens we need to make our representatives understand that we want all of these state and federal unfair minimum mandatory sentencing laws changed. Nonviolent people our spending too much time needlessly imprisoned in Florida and throughout our country to the point that federal prisons wrongly hold thousands of prisoners beyond their release dates.

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