Contact: Rabiah Burks
FAMM Endorses Florida Constitutional Amendments 11 and 4
Tallahassee – FAMM today endorsed two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in Florida, Amendment 11 and Amendment 4. Amendment 11 would allow the legislature to make sentencing reforms retroactive, while Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to most felons who have completed their sentence.
“Amendments 11 and 4 are important measures designed to protect public safety and restore basic fairness for all Floridians,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring.
Ring noted that Amendment 11 reflected FAMM’s mission of restoring fairness and proportionality to criminal sentencing laws. “States across the country are protecting public safety and reducing prison populations through retroactive sentencing reforms. Thanks to an obscure provision that’s been gathering dust since 1885, Florida doesn’t have that option. Amendment 11 would fix this omission in the law,” Ring said.
Ring stressed the need for Amendment 11, noting that it would help the legislature make retroactive several reforms FAMM helped lawmakers pass. “In 2014, the legislature reduced sentences for some drug offenses, but the constitution won’t let the legislature apply those changes to people already in prison. Passing Amendment 11 would ensure that people don’t serve much longer sentences just because they didn’t get sentenced on the right day.” Cynthia Powell, for example, received a 25-year mandatory prison sentence for a first-time drug offense. “Cynthia Powell’s crime today carries a seven-year sentence. She’s 56 years old, and she’s already served 15 years. The constitution doesn’t allow the legislature to reduce Cynthia’s sentence, but Amendment 11 would give her a second chance,” Ring said.
The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) approved Amendment 11 by a vote of 36-1, the largest margin of any amendment placed on the ballot this year. “Individuals and organizations across the political spectrum have endorsed the proposals in Amendment 11 because this one is a no-brainer. We’re grateful to Senator Darryl Rouson for his leadership in the Constitution Revision Commission, and FAMM is happy to lend our support.”
Ring also praised Amendment 4. “Of course, people who break the law should be held accountable, but denying basic rights, such as voting, has the effect of turning every sentence into a life sentence. At some point, we need to let people out of the penalty box and welcome them back into the community. By restoring the right to vote, Amendment 4 will allow us to welcome back those who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society,” Ring concluded.
FAMM is a nonpartisan, national advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice reforms to make our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM promotes change by raising the voices of families and individuals who are directly affected by counterproductive sentencing and prison policies.
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