Rabiah Burks, 202-822-6700
FAMM Statement in Support of SB 1656
The bill permits lawmakers to make changes to sentencing laws retroactive.
TALLAHASSEE, FL – FAMM Director of State Policy Greg Newburn issued the following statement today in support of SB 1656, a bill that will allow lawmakers to make changes to sentencing laws retroactive:
For nearly two years, FAMM has led the effort to give the Florida legislature the power to make sentencing reforms retroactive. It took changing the state constitution, but we did it. Today, we take the next step and support SB 1656, which codifies the legislature’s new power. It also ensures that any reduced penalties automatically apply to defendants who are convicted and awaiting sentencing at the time the lower sentences take effect.
FAMM is particularly grateful to Sen. Darryl Rouson (D – St. Petersburg) for his vision and leadership. Sen. Rouson sponsored the retroactivity proposal in the Constitution Revision Commission and was a strong advocate for Amendment 11, which passed after nearly 4.7 million voters approved it last November. Sen. Rouson has continued this effort in the legislature and remains a champion for retroactivity. We are here today entirely because he made this happen.
FAMM strongly encourages policymakers to use this power as millions of Floridians intended and make all sentencing reforms retroactive. In 2014 and 2016, the legislature passed meaningful sentencing reforms. However, because the constitution then prohibited retroactivity, hundreds of people are today serving sentences several times longer than what current law requires. The extreme injustices that Florida lawmakers identified and corrected continue for the very prisoners whose stories persuaded Florida lawmakers and the public that the lower sentences were needed.
Today, the legislature has the power to correct these injustices by simply passing a bill. Righting these wrongs is an urgent moral imperative, and FAMM strongly encourages the legislature to do the right thing.
For nearly three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM’s focus on ending a one-size-fits-all punishment structure has led to reforms to sentencing and prison policies in 6 states and is paving the way to programs that support rehabilitation for the 94% of all prisoners who will return to our neighborhoods one day.
FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country.
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