A Florida coalition of tax watchdogs and business lobbying outfits is working toward legislation aimed at reducing criminal recidivism and thus saving taxpayer dollars, reports Sunshine State News. The Florida Smart Justice Alliance, which includes Associated Industries of Florida and Florida TaxWatch, is seeking alternatives to incarceration that would be more effective and eventually cut some of the $2.1 billion a year price tag on the incarceration of 100,000 inmates.
The group has started meeting with judges, sheriffs, and others in the criminal justice pipeline as it prepares for a Dec. 12-14 summit in Orlando to discuss an institutional rehab program that could be proposed to the legislature. Mark Flynn, president of Florida Smart Justice Association, said starting programs for nonviolent drug offenders could save Florida $20 million through reducing the cost of incarceration and the risk of those individuals returning to prison. Last spring, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have shifted a small group of drug-addicted inmates into a treatment program once they serve half their time. Scott said that would have broken the state law that requires a prisoner to serve 85 percent of his or her sentence.