Top Ten Criminal Justice Reform (CJR) Projects for Florida in 2024 and Beyond

(IMPORTANT UPDATE – 7/25/2023: Everything on this website, Tough Enough On Crime.com (TEOC), is now owned by and is the intellectual and copyrighted property of TOUGH ENOUGH ON CRIME, INC., (TEOC, Inc.), a Florida Not For Profit Corporation with IRC 501(c)(3) status.)

Quick Summary of my  Top Ten Criminal Justice Reform (CJR) Projects for Florida in 2024 and Beyond
(Follow links for full details.)

1. Pass a new law to retroactively apply a 65% incentive and/or rehabilitative gaintime policy to all non-lifer prisoners, which will also substantially increase the safety of Correctional Officers in the prisons.

2. It’s “Time for 12 Jurors” in Florida. Pass a law now to require 12 jurors at all felony trials instead of the current law requiring only 6 jurors, just like (almost) everywhere else in America. The United States Supreme Court is very likely to soon decide that the use of less than 12 jurors at felony trials in Florida violates the United States Constitution, which will require (expensive) retrials of thousands of non-final convictions at felony trials that only had six jurors.

3. Pass a law to retroactively apply the 2016 amendment to the 10-20-Life law which deleted the crime of Aggravated Assault from the list of crimes subject to a 20-year mandatory minimum prison sentence to the 100 or so prisoners still serving a 20-year mandatory minimum prison (and unable to earn any gaintime) sentence for an aggravated assault.

4. Change those statutes that can result in Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) prison sentences for any crime other than murder. The primary policy concern with the possibility or requirement of a LWOP sentence for robbers or burglars is that it strongly and wrongly motivates the robber or burglar to murder the victim in order to eliminate the witness and get away with the crime – why not, since it would be the same LWOP sentence anyway? A LWOP sentence should be reserved for murderers, not for the some 3,000 robbers and burglars who were serving a LWOP sentence in Florida as of January 1, 2023. See more here.

5. Each Florida County should have to pay a fair share of prison costs for prisoners sentenced from that County.

6. No more “Per Curiam Affirmed” (PCA) throwaway opinions from Florida’s District Courts of Appeals (DCA) in criminal appeals.

7. It is widely accepted that sentences for certain crimes have gotten too long and too expensive over the last forty years, increasing sentences far above what the sentencing method of the current Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) code score called for.

8. Pass a new law to retroactively repeal that strange crime degree called a “Felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment. How can a crime be both a first-degree felony (30-years maximum) and a life felony (which is a natural life without parole sentence, lasting until death)?

9. Amend s. 921.0024(2), Fla.Stat. of the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC), which now permits the sentencing judge the unfettered discretion to sentence up to the statutory maximum length sentence and the unfettered discretion to impose consecutive sentences.

10. Amend s. 948.06(2)(b), Fla. Stat, dealing with a revocation of probation, to limit a court from imposing any sentence length which it might have imposed before placing the probationer on probation.

The Full Details of my Top Ten Criminal Justice Reforms Proposals:

1. Pass a new law to retroactively apply a 65% incentive and/or rehabilitative gaintime policy to all non-life prisoners. This will increase the safety of the Correctional Officers in the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) by maximizing good behavior by all non-life prisoners (whether convicted of violent or non-violent crimes), drop the prison population by up to 25,000 prisoners (and so reduce the prisoner to Correctional Officer ratio from the current 8 to 1 to the more desirable 6 to 1), and save many hundreds of millions of dollars a year in prison costs – all within one year. This is by far the single most powerful criminal justice reform that can be done during the 2025 Session. For details, see my analysis of “How 65% Gaintime in Florida Would Both Improve Correctional Officers’ Safety and Quickly Shrink the Prison Population Significantly.”

2.  It’s “Time for 12 Jurors” in Florida. Pass a law to require 12 jurors at all felony trials just like (almost) everywhere else in America. It is statistically impossible to seat racially diverse juries when there are only six seats in a jury box, a dangerously unjust game of musical chairs. It is not soft on crime to require Florida prosecutors to prove their charges to 12 jurors at trial as prosecutors in all the other states and Federal courts do every day. The “presumption of innocence,” that long golden thread stitching together centuries of English and American jurisprudence, is dangerously frayed in Florida where the State only has to overcome the presumption of innocence before six jurors. See my full discussion at “Time for 12 Jurors.”

(Very Important Update: Time For 12 Jurors in Florida is suddenly a logical extension of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Ramos v Louisiana, 140 S.Ct. 1390 (2020); 18-5924 (April 20, 2020), which held that it was unconstitutional to have non-unanimous juries in felony trials. It was some 50 years ago that the USSC held that neither the Federal requirement of 12 jurors nor unanimous juries in felony trials applied to the States. But with Ramos now requiring unanimous jurors at all State level felony trials, that same legal reasoning in Ramos should also now apply to requiring 12 jurors at all Florida felony jury trials. As Justice Alito said in Ramos in dissent, “Repudiating the reasoning of Apodaca will almost certainly prompt calls to overrule Williams.” (Williams v Florida, 399 US 78 (1970) was the case that decided that the U.S. Constitution did not require 12 jurors in all Florid felony trials).

Hopefully, the Florida Legislature in the 2023 Session will finally see the Ramos opinion/order now engraved on the USSC’s Courthouse wall and so now pass a Florida law to require 12 jurors at all felony trials before the USSC overrules Williams and orders Florida to do so and requires new trials for all current, non-final cases where the conviction was by only six jurors in Florida.  (UPDATE: On May 17, 2017, the United States Supreme Court decided that Ramos does not apply retroactively: see Edwards v. Vannoy, No. 19-5807, May 17, 2021: “HELD: Ramos announced a new rule of criminal procedure. It does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review.”)

3. Pass a law to retroactively apply the 2016 amendment to the 10-20-Life law which deleted the crime of Aggravated Assault from the list of crimes subject to a 20-year mandatory minimum prison sentence to the 100 or so prisoners still serving a 20-year mandatory minimum prison (and unable to earn any gaintime) sentence for an aggravated assault. Without 10-20-Life, an aggravated assault has a maximum sentence of up to 5-years, an appropriate sentence for a crime which by definition in Florida, unlike in other states and in TV shows, is only a threat to do violence, not any actual violence. Not one victim of aggravated assault in Florida has ever been physically hurt, nary ever needing even a single Band-Aid. Typically, a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence for an aggravated assault involved a warning shot fired in self-defense where no one was hurt. (And as part of this reform, remove Aggravated Assault from its inclusion in various enhancement statutes, including the Habitual Violent Felony Offender law, which requires severely long sentences for any new felony, violent or not, committed within five years of release from prison for someone whose only previous felony was an aggravated assault.)

4. Change those statutes that can result in Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) prison sentences for any crime other than murder. The primary policy concern with the possibility or requirement of a LWOP sentence for robbers or burglars is that it strongly and wrongly motivates the robber or burglar to murder the victim in order to eliminate the witness and get away with the crime – why not, since it would be the same LWOP sentence anyway? A LWOP sentence should be reserved for murderers, not for the some 3,000 robbers and burglars that were serving a LWOP sentence in Florida as of January 1, 2023. See more here.

5. Each Florida County should have to pay a fair share of prison costs for prisoners sentenced from that county. Locally elected Circuit Court judges and State Attorneys have an incentive to maximize prison sentences (and not so coincidentally, get local troublemakers out of their county) when the prison costs are paid for by the residents of the other 66 counties in Florida, every time they pay a sales-tax. (Florida prison costs are largely funded by Florida’s sales-taxes; about $.50 out of the $6 sales tax on any $100 purchase goes to funding the Florida’s prison.)

At a minimum, a new law should require that whenever a judge uses his/her unlimited discretion to sentence someone to serve consecutive sentences, or to exceed the CPC scoresheet sentence to the statutory maximum sentence, the county of sentencing should be required to pay FDOC for all prison costs incurred for the consecutive part of the sentence or the part that exceeds the CPC sentence length. Furthermore, all sentencing documents should also include an estimated prison cost to taxpayers for that sentence and be signed by both the judge and by the prosecutor to show that they are aware of the cost of each prison sentence to the taxpayers of Florida.

6. No more “Per Curiam Affirmed” (PCA) throwaway opinions from Florida’s District Courts of Appeals (DCA) in criminal appeals. With a PCA, neither the prisoner nor his appellate lawyer will ever know if the DCA even read the appellate briefs, much less reached the merits of the appeal. After the State pays for preparing the trial transcripts and case records, pays for the defense and State appellate attorneys to write the appellate briefs, and pays for the cost of prison, the DCA judges should at least be required to write a real opinion on the merits of each case, as other states require appellate judges to do. With PCAs, no one except the employees of the District Courts of Appeal in Florida know if any appellate judge even read the Briefs, much less analyzed them. For all the public knows, appellate briefs just pile up on a judge’s law clerk’s desk unread until they are rubber-stamped “Per Curiam Affirmed” (PCA) so they can get out of the office and still make happy-hour on free taco night at the local watering hole. An appellate judge who will not bother to write a detailed decision in every felony case appeal is in the wrong job. There are plenty of potential appellate judges who would love to write appellate opinions in every felony appeal. After all, less than 2% of felony defendants in Florida go on to have a jury trial. For more, see here.

7. It is widely accepted that sentences for certain crimes have gotten too long and too expensive over the last forty years, increasing sentences far above what the sentencing method of the current Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) code score called for. This is primarily due to the mandatory minimum sentence statutes such as the 10-20-Life and the Prisoner Releasee Reoffender (PRR) laws and the so-called enhancement statutes which reclassify and increase the degree and punishment of a crime (such as using a deadly weapon during a crime and the Habitual Felony Offender law) that were enacted over 20 years ago. By now repealing those statutes and applying them retroactively to prisoners previously sentenced, sentences could be reduced to what the proper sentence would have been at the time of sentencing.

8. Pass a new law to retroactively repeal that strange crime degree called a “felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment,” commonly called “1st/PBL,” or just “PBL” (Punishable By Life). How can any crime be both a first-degree felony and a life felony? The PBL degree was created in 1971, a perverse, inbred cross between a first-degree felony (punishable by up to 30 years in prison) and a life sentence. But when the PBL degree was created in 1971, a life sentence always included the possibility of parole, while since 1995 all life sentences are natural life sentences without any possibility of parole (LWOP). There are at least nine crimes in Florida, including robbery and burglary, that still include this antiquated crime degree of PBL and so allows (or requires if a defendant is subject to the Prisoner Releasee Reoffender (PRR) law) a life without parole sentence.

The primary policy concern with the possibility or requirement of a LWOP sentence for robbers or burglars is that it strongly and wrongly motivates the robber or burglar to murder the victim in order to eliminate the witness and get away with the crime – why not, since it would be the same LWOP sentence anyway? A LWOP sentence should be reserved for murderers, not for the some 3,000 robbers and burglars who were serving a LWOP sentence in Florida as of January 1, 2023. See more here.

9. Amend s. 921.0024(2), Fla.Stat. of the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC), which now permits the sentencing judge the unfettered discretion to sentence up to the statutory maximum length sentence, to either (1) require the court to make written findings why such a sentence is necessary; or (2) establish a range of allowable sentence length based on the CPC Scoresheet code score, such as 50% below or 50% above the code score’s lowest permissible sentence. For example, if such a code score was 60 months for a second-degree felony, the permissible sentence range should be from 30 to 90 months, not the current 60 months to 180 months. Similarly, amend s. 921.0024(2), Fla. Stat. of the CPC, which now allows a judge the unfettered discretion to impose sentences for additional offenses either concurrently or consecutively, to require the judge to make written findings as to why consecutive sentences are deemed necessary and why the added prison costs of consecutive sentences should be paid by the State, rather than by the County of sentencing.

10. Amend s. 948.06(2)(b), Fla. Stat, dealing with a revocation of probation, to limit a court from using its current unfettered discretion to resentence any probation violator to any sentence length which it might have originally imposed before placing the probationer on probation. Currently, this creates a dangerous trap for too many defendants. For example, if someone charged with a second-degree felony and whose CPC score required a minimum 3-year sentence accepted an offer of probation instead of prison, and then violated probation and had it revoked, that court could resentence that person without a trial to the 15-year statutory maximum sentence, far above a reasonable sentence for the crime committed.

 

 

49 thoughts on “Top Ten Criminal Justice Reform (CJR) Projects for Florida in 2024 and Beyond”

  1. Look at SB210 and HB1127 from last session..we need more legislation this session to change PRR law in Florida

      1. No. The Florida House again killed any PRR or criminal Justice Reform.
        All of the House members are up for reelection this year, so voting in Democrats to replace Republicans in the House is the only hope.

  2. Now that the elections are over, do you think the prison reforms will be dealt with or just sit and die in the committees

    1. yes it is still very important as there r people way oversentenced .must retroactive.on the 10-20 law .will save billions of $ .for releasing .non violent people .

    2. mr.Ames did not get offered any plea deal .he asked them .but nothing was offered
      I am with Florida cares .they r a god sent .thank you soooo much for your reply .God bless you.

  3. Retroactively passing the trafficking in oxycodone laws from 2014 for all those sentenced before that year

    1. It’s smart and it’s only right this all makes sense it gives the prisoner a second chance to get his or her life together! Because right now in the prison system there is no such thing as rehabilitation at all what so ever so please do the right thing let’s make a change and it will work

  4. My fiancé is serving this life in prison sentence for burglary by reoffender. He never killed anyone and he has served 23yrs so far. Has been on good behavior for 12 years and has been rehabilitating himself because there are no re-entry programs for his type of sentence. In other words they have locked him up and forgotten about him. How can I help with this law to change. Are signatures needed?

    1. Current Senate Bill SB 210 is a great PRR Bill, and would reduce a PRR life to 25 years and gaintime and retroactive. See the Bill of the Senate website. I’ve updated my ToughEnoughOnCrime.com website. Also look at the facebook group Florida Cares.

      1. There are some good Bills in the Senate this 2021 Session, but it’s the House Republicans who need to be convinced to agree.

  5. Enough of the prisons business in Florida!!!! up to the expense of people wrongfully convictet and subjected to cruel and unusual sentences base in an obsolete sistem of sentencing Gide lines!!! Is ridiculous!!! No more making money from inmates!!!!!

    1. please help us that are locked up io fla. i have a tech. vop and was given 10.25 years that is way over the top plus they made me a green case so i cant even meet my 85% date my name is lena white dc# 967332

      1. That’s the probation trap. I discuss it in my updated ToughEnoughOnCrime.com Also, have your family get into the facebook group, Florida Cares, for help and support.

    1. It died in the 2020 Session. Success in the 2021 Legislative Session will depend largely on the November 2020 election winners in the Florida House.

      1. What about retroactively passing the change in law traffing in oxycodone from 2014?? My brother has been in prison since 2009 for trafficking in a hand full of pills, and the law he was sentenced under is no longer in effect, they uped the weight to trigger a trafficking case,and oxycodone and hydrocodone have there own bracket now, some inmates have been released from the state attorney down in broward county this pass July. So is there anything being done to help them??

      2. I received an email from myson saying that I shoulf go on the website for Florida Prison Reform last in 2020. I was happy about that and told other family members to go to wesit on behalf of my son. It looks like very little how. The public defender did not do a good job for him at all. My son found while reading his conviction papers that was convicted on some charges that he was never charged. My son had never committed any vioted crime until this. The State of Florida has no help for my son. The 40 year sentence was quite extensive. Know one was hurt anf the victim appeared in a court preceeding he should not have been in trying to idrntify my son. Please help my son.

      3. That’s rough. You should join the facebook group Florida Cares to chat with folks in the same sad situation.

      4. I’m reaching out for Richard David Ames jr. b08831. Age 33incarsarated since 2008 under the 10-20 law that no longer exists. Waiting on retroactivity

      5. I’m familiar with Mr. Ames, as one of the 150 or so men still doing 20 years for an aggravated assault. He also went to trial, as 85% of those AA-20 men did. Less than 2% of all felony defendants go to trial in Florida. Did they offer him a plea deal, usually 3 to 5 years? When you turn down a plea deal and go to trial, you pay the “Trial Penalty” and get the maximum sentence. Right now, SB 328 is calling for retro resentencing for AA-20 and some dope crimes. (Go to the Florida Senate website and enter the Bill # to see details.) You should join the facebook group Florida Cares to meet other folks who have family in AA-20.

  6. Hey I am reaching out to see if you have heard of this case involving Danny G Knight DOC#R65065 Can you help?

    This is his story, he was set up by a CI and also charged with a robbery he was not present at and had nothing to do with, and gave a confession he was coerced and beaten into please see attached photo.

    81365074_2082840981818208_8097583812046749696_n.jpg

    Hello, My name is Danny Knight. My DOC number is R65065. I am an inmate at Liberty Correctional in Bristol, Florida. I am going on my 12th year of a 40 year sentence, for a non violent, first time offense, I committed 60 days into my 17th birthday. My life as I knew it, started to change when I was I was 15. My parents seperated, which ultimately resulted in my father going off the deep end, and firing off all of his weapons, (over 200 rounds) throughout the house while my brother and I were inside sleeping. The bullets missed us by inches. The effects of that night were devastating. They officially filed for divorce in December, 2007. I was 16.
    Before the divorce, I was a normal and happy kid with four siblings. I was doing good in school and I was the captain of my football team at NorthEast High School in St. Petersburg, FL. I was an easy going kid who got along with every one, but, after the divorce, my whole world turned upside down. I lost interest in football and eventually stopped going to school. I was sad, mad, and depressed so I ended up turning to drugs and alcohol to try to cope with my pain. I felt like I was completely alone and that no one cared about me. The school didn’t offer any of counseling, and I had no idea on how to handle any of my problems. I started hanging out in the streets alot. I stopped hanging around all the friends I used to have because I was embarrassed and humiliated about what had happened to my family. I started hanging out with a rough group of older people (most 18-20 year olds). I was easy to manipulate and take advantage of because I was so lost in life and I started using drugs. Then they would talk me into doing things I would never have done had I been in my right mind. Everything was getting away from me, and before I realized what was really going on I was arrested and sitting in a jail cell. How I had let my life get so out of control?
    I had just turned 17 (on January 13th) and i was being charged with trafficking hydrocodone and armed robbery (March 13th, 2008). I was given a court appointed attorney, who did nothing to help me. He convinced me to do an open plea for my trafficking charge. He said that since I was a juvenile, and was my first non violent felony, that I wouldn’t get much time. He was apparently unaware or apathetic towards the mandatory minimum 25 year sentencing laws, that have since been changed, but are not retroactive. The judge ended up sentencing me to a minimum mandatory 25 years in prison. After that, I still had the armed robbery charge (which I did not commit) to deal with. I didn’t want to take anymore pleas (because of bad advice of counsel) so I decided to go to trial. The state’s only evidence in the robbery was my coerced confession. I was beaten by the police (my booking photo substantiates this) and I was forced to confess to something I didn’t do. I had asked for my mom and an attorney several times while I was being questioned, and the detective flat out lied. He told me my mom had said she wanted nothing more to do with me, and that they could do whatever they wanted to do with me. No one had contacted my mom and she was never given the opportunity to be present. The detective testified that he never talked to my mom himself, and that he doesn’t remember who did. The questioning should’ve stopped once I asked for my mom, but it never did. I was held in the room for several hours with no food or water until I finally confessed to something I didn’t do, just so I could get out of there. I was scared to death. I was also on prescribed pain medication at the time and I had informed the detective of this but he didn’t care. Despite all of these mitigating circumstances, I was still found guilty and sentenced to another 15 years. which made my total sentence 40 years. When the judge was made aware of how the police beat me up, she said, “Oh, that happens when you get arrested.” I’ve never been able to understand how you give a first time juvenile offender 40 years for a non violent victimless crime.
    I’ve been locked up now for going on 12 years. During this time, I have taken advantage of every opportunity to better myself and continue to do so on a daily basis. I’ve taken every single class available, and have also received several certificates, along with receiving my GED. Instead of allowing this place tear me down, I have used it to build myself up and become the man I was raised to be. After having to watch my mom break down crying while her youngest son was being sent to prison for 40 years, I promised myself I would do everything in my power to make her proud of me again. I have let my family down. I have a very good support team in place, and I have everything I need to succeed in life. The only thing I’m missing is the opportunity. Everyone deserves a second chance. Especially someone who was still a minor when they screwed up, and was never offered any kind of community service, intervention, counseling or addictions treatment. I never physically hurt or assaulted anyone. Prior to all of this, my only other charge ever was a citation when I was 12 for riding a bicycle without a helment.
    I need all the help I can get. Please everyone, Help me share my story with as many people as possible in hopes it reaches someone who can help me get a second chance at life. No kid should ever have to go through what I’ve been through. If given the chance, I want to help make sure that doesn’t happen to any other kids. I want to help mentor at risk youth, and I will use my story to show them that there is way more to life, and drugs are never the answer. Please
    help share my story, so I can have my life back. Thank you and God bless.
    Danny Knight R65065
    Liberty Correctional
    11064 N.W. Dempsey Barron Rd.
    Bristol, FL 32321-9711

    1. No, I had not heard of Mr. Knight’s sad story, but there are too many cases like it in Florida. Probably his best hope is if we can get the Florida Legislature to pass a law during the 2021 Session to retroactively apply 65% gaintime to all prisoners except murderers (and apply it to mandatory minimum sentences as well). A lot depends on the 2020 election results for the Florida House. On e new thing that could help is Florida’s budget crunch this year because of the corona virus crisis (far less sales and tourist taxes coming in). As I analyzed 65% retro gaintime last year, it could cut up to $750,000,000 the first year in prison costs, which is quite a bit of savings. I still believe the Correctional Officers need to come out in support of 65% to get it passed, and they should support it to make their lives easier.

      1. Thank you for your reply, do you regularly update this site ? also what is your opinion do you believe this is something that is possibly going to get passed?

      2. I do update the details as needed, but it’s still the same Top Ten Reforms. Right now, a lot depends on the 2020 election results in the Florida House. I’m in the middle of updating the 65% gain-time statistics with FDOC’s October 2020 OBIS data files; the one now up was based on the January 2019 data. I believe the Time For 12 Jurors law is easily doable now because of the US Supreme Court case in 2020 I discussed that banned non-unanimous jury verdicts; their reasoning equally easily applies to any felony jury trial with less than 12 jurors. I also have higher hopes in 2021 for retroactive 65% gain-time for all non lifers, because the money that would save, up to $750 million/year, is more of a factor what with Florida’s 2020 budget shortfall due to CovidWorld.

      3. I believe that the 65% gain time should apply to all incarcerated regardless of the conviction unless it was so violent as murders, serial killers etc. This includes people convicted of a sexual crime with no evidence, witnesses, all circumstancel. My son is one who has been accused of a sexual crime and received 13 years without gain time or serving 65% instead of 85%! He is not violent and is serving a sentence that is way over the top! Like so many others! It’s hearsay and he’s paying the price! How do you feel about that? If he was accused and convicted in any other state other than Florida, he would not be serving 13 years like he is in Florida!

    2. Hello I have a story to tell that can explain my question and concern about life sentences. I am wondering if there is any reform for as said violent offenders? Back in 2006 they changed life sentences from 14 years all the way to 30 years before eligible for parole. My LO was wrongfully convicted in 2008 just 2 years after the guidelines changed and now has to do twice the time as other offenders before he can be eligible for parole. What are the chances of reform for these men and women as I feel unless someone is a serial killer or terrorist they should get a second chance at life? Studies say a persons rational thinking does not fully develope until age 25 and my LO was 22 when he was sentenced to life. I won’t get into the wrongful conviction as we have been getting little to no actual support so I thought I would turn my attention to an issue I know others can relate to. Thank you anyone who can help me in this process.

      MATTHEW COLZIE.
      Matthew Colzie is a prisoner within the prison system of GEORGIA, a state that is well known for convicting people without any evidence whatsoever. Matthew Colzie is one of the unfortunate ones
      Matthew Colzie was convicted in the superior court of fulton county and sentenced to life imprisonment on the testimony of a convicted felon, nothing more. A Life sentence in this state is just what it says,life, even with the possibility of parole, a prisoner must spend a least thirty years in confinement before being considered for parole.
      A man like Matthew Colzie, if convicted at age twenty would be eligible for parole at age fifty, and the thirty years mandatory will be spent in some of the harshest and brutal conditions that you could only imagine in a third world country. In fact, at this moment Matthew Colzie is at Macon State Prison, Oglethorpe Georgia, one of the most brutal prisons in this state.

  7. Felony murder rule needs to be addressed – it is grossly unfair to convict a person of 1st degree felony murder for being an accomplice. In most instances, it is impossible to know what another person will do. you should be held accountable for YOUR actions not someone else’s. No o e should get LWOP for a murder they did not personally commit (except if they solicited someone to commit murder)

    1. I totally agree. A starting change would be to make the crime a first-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison. Currently the FMR is a second-degree murder that has that weird perverse inbred penalty called “a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life.” It should either be a 1st degree felony (30 years max) or a life felony (LWOP in Florida) — but not both rolled up into one. LWOP should be reserved for actual murderers only, now that executions in Florida are so very rare that the threat of execution has no realistic deterrent value.

      And the FMR also creates an incentive for the accomplice/non-murderer to go on and become a murderer himself by killing all the other victims or witnesses — why not, since it’s the same LWOP either way?

  8. In 2014 there was a law passed to address the juvenile issue in florida. That law was not applied retroactively so now there are numerous prisoners who’ve been incarcerated since they were juveniles that are not eligible for a sentence review. That law should be applied retroactively. Some inmates have been in there long enough and it comes to a point where it just becomes cruel and unusual punishment. Plenty juvenile offenders serving non murder sentences who need a sentence review under 2014-220.

  9. Recognize it is unethical for a defense attorney with a private practice in one county being appointed as a special prosecutor for the state on vop in the next county over. Martha Blackmon Milligan.

  10. Please address the Felony Murder Rule (FMR) in Florida. Surely this archaic law serves no true purpose on the books and contributes to mass incarceration. Prosecutorial misconduct has been observed in trials where the FMR is at play. Many do not know one can be charged with murder simply by being present, regardless of intent.

    1. You are right about the wrongs of the FMR. It’s another excessive law usually used as leverage to get a plea deal. With the death penalty in Florida essentially just another life sentence, life should be reserved only for murderers, the actual murderer.

  11. This is a good list with some good ideas.
    Another good one would be paying legislation that puts a handle on prosecutors. While many of them so a good job they are also known too get a little too carried away when it comes time for sentencing.

    1. All prosecutor’s miscarriage and misconduct should be made retroactive to give the defense the opportunity to bring it back on appeals again!

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