Why FAMM is working in Florida:
Florida has the third largest prison population in the United States and some of the worst mandatory minimum sentencing laws in the country. FAMM is working in Florida to change this reality.
Florida Deserves Better
There’s an opioid crisis in #Florida, and it’s a scary one. But we can’t allow fear to lead us into the arms of terrible policies. Share if you think Florida’s opioid crisis is too important for failed solutions.
Posted by FAMM on Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Florida Legislature has adjourned for 2018. The legislature will not meet for official legislative business until 2019.
SB 694 allows sentencing courts to depart from mandatory minimums under certain circumstances. Under SB 694, courts may impose a term of imprisonment less than the mandatory minimum if all of the following circumstances are met:
- The defendant did not engage in a “continuing criminal enterprise”;
- The defendant did not use or threaten violence or use a weapon during the offense; and
- The defendant did not cause a death or serious bodily injury.
Example: Under current law, a first-time offender convicted of illegal possession of more than 50 Oxycodone pills faces a 15-year mandatory sentence. Under SB 694, a judge has the option of sentencing the same offender to any prison sentence the court deems warranted. However, if the same defendant is found to have participated in a continuing criminal enterprise, or if the defendant used a weapon or threatened violence during the offense, or if the defendant caused a death or serious bodily injury, the judge would have to impose the mandatory minimum sentence.
HB 481 allows sentencing courts to depart from mandatory minimums – down to 1/3 of that minimum – if the court finds on the record that:
- The defendant has not previously been convicted of drug trafficking or any other violent offense;
- The defendant did not engage in a “continuing criminal enterprise”;
- The defendant did not use or threaten violence, or use a weapon, during the offense; and
- The offense did not result in a death or serious bodily injury to another person.
Example: Under current law, a first-time offender convicted of illegal possession of more than 50 Oxycodone pills faces a 15-year mandatory sentence. Under HB 481, a judge has the option of sentencing the same offender to five years in prison instead. However, if the same defendant has been convicted of drug trafficking (or any violent offense) previously, or if the court finds the defendant meets the criteria for participation in a continuing criminal enterprise, or if the defendant used a weapon or threatened violence during the offense, the judge would not be able to depart from the mandatory minimum.
SB 238 creates a conditional medical release program for inmates with a debilitating illness. “Debilitating illness” is defined under the bill as “a significant and permanent nonterminal condition, disease, or syndrome that has rendered the inmate so physically or cognitively debilitated or incapacitated as to create a reasonable probability that he or she does not present any danger to society.”
Under the bill, an inmate with a debilitating illness is eligible for supervised release provided he or she also:
- Has served at least 50 percent of his or her sentence;
- Has been convicted of a felony;
- Has no current or prior conviction for a capital or first degree felony, for a sexual offense, or for an offense involving a child;
- Has not received a disciplinary report within the previous 6 months;
- Has never received a disciplinary report for a violent act; and
- Has renounced any gang affiliation.
Under the bill, the Department of Corrections would identify inmates who meet all of the relevant criteria, and refer that inmate to the Commission on Offender Review along with relevant information about the inmate and a proposed conditional medical release plan. The commission would have 60 days to verify an inmate’s eligibility. Under the bill, once an inmate has been deemed eligible, he or she must be placed on conditional medical release.
HB 1159 provides limitations on prescriptions of certain opioids; prohibits use or possession of certain devices capable of manufacturing pills, tablets, or capsules containing controlled substances; increases the threshold weights necessary to trigger trafficking penalties for opioid pills, tablets, or capsules; and increases sentencing multiplier for drug trafficking offenses.
SB 970 expands Florida’s “Good Samaritan Law” by protecting any person who in good faith seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing or believed to be experiencing an alcohol or drug-related overdose from arrest, charge, prosecution, and penalty for various offenses, including underage alcohol possession, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, drug trafficking, and drug-related felony murder.
Governor Rick Scott signed CS/SB 228, which repeals the mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated assault with a firearm! Beginning July 1, 2016 – and for the first time since 1999 – judges will have discretion over sentencing in aggravated assault cases. Learn more here. FAMM has worked for years to reform Florida’s 10-20-Life gun sentencing law.
A new bill to implement a safety valve, a mechanism to enable judges to depart below the mandatory minimum under certain circumstances, has been introduced in the Florida Senate. The bill would restore needed judicial discretion for nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors that carry mandatory minimum sentences. Although it recently passed one committee stop, we do not expect the bill to become law this session; however, we are working closely with the bill’s sponsors and supporters, and hope to lay the groundwork for success in the near future.
Florida raised the threshold weights that trigger mandatory sentences for Oxycodone and hydrocodone trafficking, and recalibrated mandatory sentences for those offenses. It also created a “safety valve” for certain aggravated assault offenses. In 2016 Florida repealed the mandatory minimum for aggravated assault with a firearm.
- Florida Department of Corrections prison budget = $2.05 million
- Total State cost of prisons = $2.08 billion
- Average annual cost per inmate = $20,553
State Population: 19.89 million people
- Housed: 98,010 inmates in its 150 correctional facilities
- Supervised: over 136,500 active offenders on community supervision throughout the state.
You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.
February 12, 2018
Michael is a veteran serving a mandatory 25-year sentence under Florida’s 10-20-Life law after he fired two shots in self-defense, shots that did not seriously injure his attacker. Read more about what Michael’s incarceration means to his family via an op-ed by his mother, Phyllis Giles. On Feb. 6, 2010, active duty air force serviceman… Read more »
October 30, 2017
Contact: Rabiah Burks firstname.lastname@example.org 202.822.6700 FAMM Hails Introduction of Drug Mandatory Minimum Reform Bill in Florida Tallahassee, Fla. – FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) State Policy Director Greg Newburn today cheered the introduction of a reform to Florida’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) filed… Read more »
August 2, 2017
Contact: Rabiah Burks email@example.com 202.822.6700 Eric Patrick Wright Didn’t Get Justice—and He’s Not Alone WASHINGTON, DC – FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) President Kevin Ring responded to a Florida appeals court’s decision yesterday to uphold Eric Patrick Wright’s 20-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Wright fired a gun at the ground when an ex-girlfriend barged into his… Read more »
May 31, 2017
Originally published 5/19/17 at Jacksonville.com Federal prosecutors sent a letter last week to defense attorneys in Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando telling them they have two weeks to finalize plea deals or risk sending their clients to prison for much, much longer. The acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida told defense attorneys… Read more »