Florida has adopted major criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing recidivism, aiding crime victims and reducing prison populations.
“We are finally seeing this state change its approach to public safety to be ‘smart on crime,’” said Aswad Thomas, a crime survivor. He is managing director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a national network of 30,000 crime survivors.
The reforms are contained in HB7125, the most expansive criminal justice reform bill adopted in over 20 years. It went into effect in October, tampabay.com reported Oct. 16.
The reforms seek to reduce recidivism by changing occupational licensing to help those with criminal convictions become gainfully employed.
“We are finally seeing this state change its approach to public safety to be ‘smart on crime,’”
It seeks to meet the needs of crime victims by increasing the amount of time victims can access recovery support for funerals, trauma counseling, mental health treatment, and access to compensation while police investigations into the crime are still on-going.
This is something Darla and Elliot Saunders from Tampa say they needed desperately when their son was murdered 14 years ago.
The bill seeks to reduce probation violations to help alleviate overcrowded prison conditions.
Thomas wrote the article that concludes, “We see the changes contained in HB7125 as a beginning, not the end, of tackling these issues.”
He also believes that, with the help of crime survivors, it brings new hope that law- makers will change the state’s system of court fines and fees, something other states are considering to help reduce the debt of those formally incarcerated.
According to Thomas, there are 45 other states that have policies that incentivize re- habilitation for those who are incarcerated, and almost all of them are seeing measurable reductions in recidivism.