Rabiah Burks, 202-822-6700
REFORM GROUPS REACT TO OPPAGA “LOW-LEVEL OFFENDERS” REPORT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Right on Crime, FAMM, and the James Madison Institute today responded to a new report by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) by calling on the legislature to adopt reforms they say would yield better public safety at lower cost to taxpayers. The report, “Diverting Low-Risk Offenders From Florida Prisons,” found that, “there are . . . lower-risk offenders who could be diverted from prison, which could likely result in reduced recidivism and long-term cost savings.”
Chelsea Murphy, Florida director for Right on Crime, noted that the report shows that prison can be counterproductive to public safety. “Prison is the right place for violent offenders, but for lower-level offenders, prison can actually increase recidivism,” Murphy said. “Florida can save tens of millions of dollars every year by diverting a fraction of the low-level offenders we’re sending to prison now – and with better results,” Murphy said.
Greg Newburn, FAMM’s state policy director, said OPPAGA’s findings are consistent with what many criminal justice reform organizations in Florida have said for years. For example, OPPAGA found that nearly half of the prisoners serving mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses were first time, non-violent, non-sexual offenders. “OPPAGA showed that Florida is incarcerating thousands of low-level drug offenders serving mandatory sentences that were intended for violent kingpins. Restoring judicial discretion to divert those low-risk offenders from prison would yield better public safety and save taxpayers millions,” Newburn said.
OPPAGA outlined several options for diverting low-level offenders from prison, including “problem-solving courts” and expanding judicial discretion for drug offenses. Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy for the James Madison Institute, said similar reforms have worked in other states. “Texas saved $3 billion by recognizing that some people can be held accountable for breaking the law without going to prison, and their crime rate is lower than at any time since 1967,” Nuzzo said. “They must be doing something right,” he added.
Right on Crime, FAMM, and the James Madison Institute support evidence-based reforms to Florida’s criminal justice system. Visit rightoncrime.com/_florida, famm.org, and jamesmadison.org for more information.
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.
1100 H Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20005 | 202-822-6700