Ex-FL Attorney General Charlie Crist has long been calling an expensive overhaul of the state’s probation system his top priority. The Miami Herald says that for two years, legislators rejected his ”Anti-Murder Act” as too costly. Now that Crist is governor, the state legislature did an about face yesterday, passing the measure on a unanimous bipartisan vote. The law creates a new category of ”violent felony offenders of special concern,” who would be immediately jailed if they were accused of violating probation or community control. A judge determines if the offendersviolated the terms of supervised release and was a danger to the community. If so, the judge must send the offender back to prison.
Implementing the measure will cost an estimated $270 million over five years to add prison beds for about 2,500 offenders expected to be returned to prison because of the law. Lawmakers decided to spend the money even though state tax collections have fallen off in recent months. ”We are trying to incarcerate our way out of crime,” said Rep. Curtis Richardson, who said Florida was creating a “prison industrial complex.” Miami-Dade Maj. Charles Nanney, who heads the narcotics bureau, disagreed, saying, “It’s a few career criminals who prey on everyone else, and they’re not going to stop until they’re locked away from law-abiding citizens.”