Florida's decades-old, tough-on-crime laws may have helped cut the crime rate, but legislators now say such policies put too great a burden on taxpayers and are too harsh, especially for drug addicts, the Miami Herald reports. The backswing of the public safety pendulum in the Capitol mirrors a conservative national reassessment of sentencing policies known as Right on Crime, led by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.
In Florida, some Republican legislators want to eliminate minimum mandatory sentences for nonviolent offenders — mostly for drug abuse. Among their arguments is the epidemic of prescription drug abuse at storefront clinics known as “pill mills.” “We have an awful lot of people out there who are simply drug addicts who need assistance. We need to figure that out,” said Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff. “I'm just trying to make sure that drug addicts get help, and drug traffickers go to jail.” Gov. Rick Scott opposes any changes in sentencing laws that would keep some people out of prison. “I don't want to change any of the sentencing guidelines,” Scott said. “I think where we are is fine, and it's what's fair if someone commits a crime.”