Florida | FAMM

Florida

FAMM is working in Florida to roll back the state’s outdated and harmful mandatory sentencing laws and to advocate better prison conditions and increased accountability and transparency for all prison facilities. You can read more about our vision for Florida’s criminal justice system below.

Sentencing Reform

Drug Offenses

Florida’s drug trafficking mandatory minimum sentencing laws were intended to deter drug trafficking, drug abuse, and drug overdose deaths. Decades into the experiment, mandatory minimums have failed to achieve any of those objectives, and in fact have made them worse. The state should repeal mandatory minimums for drug trafficking and the overbroad and ineffective drug-free zone law.

Bills introduced in the 2020 session:

10-20-Life

Florida’s 10-20-Life law mandates harsh mandatory minimums for certain offenses committed with firearms. This law has contributed to Florida’s bloated and expensive prison system, but has not reduced crime. Lawmakers should repeal the 10-20-Life law and give judges the discretion to determine appropriate sentences.

Bills introduced in the 2020 session:

“Prison Releasee Reoffender” (PRR) and other habitual offender laws

Florida’s “Prison Releasee Reoffender” law requires the maximum sentence, including life without parole, for certain crimes committed within three years of being released from prison or county jail for a felony offense. The legislature should repeal PRR and other habitual offender laws and allow courts to decide appropriate sentences.

Bills introduced in the 2020 session:

“Drug-Induced Homicide”

Under Florida law, sharing drugs that lead to the death of another is first-degree murder, punishable by either mandatory life without parole or the death penalty. The legislature should redefine so-called “drug-induced homicides” as life felonies, not capital felonies.

Rehabilitation Credits

Florida is one of just a handful of states that does not allow anyone to earn more than 15 percent off a sentence by participating in education courses, drug treatment, and other recidivism-reducing rehabilitative programming. The legislature should expand rehabilitation credits to allow prisoners to earn up to a 35 percent reduction in sentence.

Bills introduced in the 2020 session:

Second Look Sentencing

People can change, and Florida’s laws should recognize that by providing an opportunity for resentencing when it is warranted. “Second Look” legislation would allow courts to reevaluate a person’s sentence and conduct after a significant period of time of incarceration and determine if that sentence is still necessary.

Bills introduced in the 2020 session:

Conditional Release

Almost a quarter of Florida’s prison population is age 50 or older. Older prisoners are the most expensive to house and the least likely to reoffend upon release. The legislature should establish a conditional aging prisoner release program, and a conditional medical release program, within the Department of Corrections to allow for early release for elderly and ill people.

Bills introduced in the 2020 session:

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Prison Reform

Prison conditions

The legislature should commit to meaningfully improving the living conditions of Florida’s 96,000 prisoners, especially those housed in state-run facilities who endure extreme heat year-round without air conditioning. At a minimum, the legislature should mandate humane temperature standards in state-run prisons and allow the Department to reestablish the “Inmate Welfare Fund.”

Prison oversight and accountability

The legislature should create an independent oversight body with authority to monitor and inspect Department of Public Safety facilities and conditions, make recommendations for improving the Department, and investigate and address grievances.

Bills introduced in the 2020 session:

Transparency

Prison systems need transparency to run well and prevent harm to staff and prisoners. The legislature should require the Department of Corrections to gather and report relevant data on prisoner well-being, including but not limited to prisoner health, use of force incidents, abuse complaints, average dorm temperatures, correctional officer to prisoner ratios, and causes of prisoner deaths.

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Clemency Reform

The Clemency Board should amend the Rules of Executive Clemency to expand eligibility for all forms of clemency, including commutations of sentence, and expedite the commutation process. The Clemency Board should commit to approving commutation petitions at each meeting.

The legislature should ensure the Florida Commission on Offender Review remains sufficiently funded to end any remaining backlog of clemency petitions, and ensure timely review and consideration of future clemency petitions.

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