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Non-violent prisoners could be released before serving full sentences under new legislation

Posted at 6:01 PM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 18:01:21-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Legislation moving at the state capitol could lead to some non-violent prisoners being released before serving their full sentences.

A bill passed by a Senate panel Tuesday would enhance re-entry services for inmates and allow judges to depart from mandatory minimum sentences related to drug-trafficking crimes.

Supporters of the legislation say the amount of money the state spends locking people up is unsustainable.

State Senator Jeff Brandes is the bill sponsor. He hopes the legislation leads to more rehabilitation for inmates, rather than just punishment.

“If you want to see the number one correlation between recidivism and incarceration, the ability for somebody to get a job is an incredibly important step in them moving forward with their lives," said Brandes.

Opponents of the bill, including the Florida Sheriffs Association, say those convicted of crimes should serve their entire sentences before being released.

Historically, the legislature has been reluctant to pass sweeping prison reforms, fearing changes would make lawmakers look weak on crime.