FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 9, 2019
Alliance for Safety and Justice & Crime Survivors Applaud Rep. Renner for Smart Justice Reforms to Improve Safety
JDC 19-02, which establishes new safety priorities for Florida, passes the House’s Judiciary Committee unanimously
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) and crime victims applaud the Florida House of Representatives for the new safety priorities in their criminal justice proposal, JDC 19-02. It would improve the probation system, modernize Florida safety policies, remove barriers to the victim compensation program for crime victims, and help put people back to work. Today, the bill passed the Florida House’s Judiciary Committee unanimously.
Representative Paul Renner said, “Florida can build upon our successes and reduce existing problems by focusing public policies on ending the cycle of crime and reducing recidivism. We must maximize the use of our public safety investments on policies that are proven to make communities safer and our economy stronger.”
Robert Rooks, Vice President of Alliance for Safety and Justice, said: “I applaud Florida House leaders for putting forward solutions that shift Florida towards important safety solutions to improve the well-being of communities and crime survivors. Effective justice policies that prioritize prevention, rehabilitation, andworkforce development, as well as access to services for crime victims are the key to making Florida communities healthier and safer. We look forward to supporting Chairman Renner in advancing important reforms through the legislative process.”
Agnes Furey of Tallahassee Chapter Co-Coordinator of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a national network of crime survivors with chapters throughout Florida, said: “As crime victims, we support JDC 19-02’s important reforms that would help stop cycles of crime by improving the probation system and removing obstacles that get people back to work. We also applaud the measure’s elimination of barriers for crime victims to access victim compensation, a priority of Florida crime survivors. We look forward to working with state leaders to pass important reforms that advance public safety in Florida.”
Last week, hundreds of diverse crime survivors from across the Sunshine State traveled to Florida’s Capitol to advocate for policy changes which stop cycles of crime and make communities safer including improving probation, reducing barriers to work and removing barriers to trauma and other services for victims. JDC 19-02, includes many of these policy changes.
ABOUT JDC 19-02:
Thousands of Floridians are incarcerated, not because they have committed a new offense, but because of a technical violation of probation. These violations range from missing a class, treatment or counseling session, or meeting, to not reporting a change in employment or change in address.
This legislation would encourage a more effective approach: judges using graduated sanctions other than expensive prison time for a technical violation of probation. The use of escalating, non-prison sanctions can more effectively hold people accountable for their actions while better ensuring they successfully reenter society and contribute to their families and communities. Sanctions can range from mandated drug treatment, to a temporary curfew, or up to a few days in jail.
In order to ensure that our probation system works to make communities safer, we need to differentiate between people who have committed a new crime and those who may have broken a technical rule. This is a more effective ways to correct behavior, stop the cycle of crime, and improve public safety.
Floridians living with a past conviction face over 500 legal restrictions that prevent them from contributing to their families, communities and the economy. This legislation ensures that a past conviction can no longer prevent Floridians from earning a job and achieving economic stability. A number of jobs require state-issued occupational licenses, including fields like barbering and cosmetology among many others. Yet, a past conviction can restrict people from receiving these licenses, blocking them from employment that could help them achieve self-sufficiency and successfully re-enter society.
Reintegration into the Florida economy through gainful employment is a life-stabilizing opportunity that decreases a person’s likelihood to re-offend. By providing pathways to earn redemption, we ensure people become contributing members of their families and communities rather than remaining in a cycle of crime. Removing obstacles for people to work can reduce recidivism and create safer communities.
Reducing Victim Compensation Barriers
Crime survivors face serious barriers to getting help after becoming a victim of crime – many get no help at all. Florida’s victim compensation program can provide important support to victims of violence and their families. Under current law, however, individuals and families face roadblocks to accessing resources from the program. By the time victims move past the immediate shock of an incident, they may have missed deadlines to access programs that can help them recover from the grief and trauma.
We must remove barriers that prevent victims, as well as their children and families, from receiving the help they need. This legislation would improve access to victim compensation funds by extending the time limits to report a crime from 72 hours to 5 days and extending the time limits to apply for victim compensation funds from 1 to 5 years.
Driver’s License Suspension Reform
For many, the suspension of their driver’s license is a barrier to work, education, childcare and economic stability. These obstacles to fulfilling economic and family obligations undermine the health and safety of Florida communities. This bill limits some cases of license suspension that are unrelated to road safety.
Modernizing Criminal Justice Policies
Reform in JDC 19-02 gives prosecutors more flexibility when deciding how to charge juveniles for offenses.By eliminating broad requirements that prosecutors charge juveniles in adult court, the legislation allows prosecutors to determine whether adult or juvenile charges are more appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
By modernizing the threshold for what constitutes felony theft to align with current-day values, Florida can enact common-sense solutions to ensure people are held accountable without the excessive barriers of a felony conviction. Several states, including Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, have pursued similar changes and have seen crime rates decrease by the same amount as states that did not change their comparable laws.
Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. ASJ partners with leaders and advocates to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. For more information, visit: www.allianceforsafetyandjustice.org
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) is a national network of over 25,000 crime survivors across the country. It brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence. For more information, visit: www.cssj.org