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State Rep. Proposes Early Release for Some Inmates

October 19, 2011 | WMFE - A State House Committee is debating a bill that would grant early release for certain inmates who complete drug treatment or other types of rehabilitation programs. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee committee voted to approve the bill Tuesday, but some members say they have reservations.

Some lawmakers are divided about a bill that would let non-violent offenders serving time for low level crimes enter rehabilitation programs after serving at least half of their sentence. Democratic State Representative Ari Porth of Coral Springs presented the bill before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Tuesday. Porth said his bill offers non-violent offenders a second chance and will save the state millions of dollars. The proposal was met with much opposition and Porth conceded that some changes need to be made before moving forward with his bill.

“In the language in the bill, you have to serve 50% of your sentence before being reconsidered for re-entry.” Porth said. “Representative Glorioso suggested that the number needs to be increased to perhaps 60%. That’s something that we can consider.”

Republican Representative Rich Glorioso of Plant City was not alone in his concerns about the bill. Although committee members approved the measure in a 12 to 3 vote, many representatives who voted for the bill say they would oppose it later in the legislative process unless it's more restrictive.

Republican Representative Carlos Trujillo of Miami says, in his opinion, some offenders don’t deserve a second chance.
“I think some of the people that batter police officers, that resist arrest, that steal motor vehicles, that have a history of disobeying the law, should not be given a second, third, and fourth chance.” Trujillo told the committee

The bill, as written, says prisoners can be eligible for early release if they complete at least half of their sentence. Some members want to increase that to at least 60%. Others are concerned that the bill violates a state rule that all Florida inmates must serve at least 85% of their sentence before consideration for parole.
Representative Porth, the bill’s sponsor, promised changes would be made before the bill heads to its next committee.

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