The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

Discretion on the Bench

Mandatory minimums and other stringent sanctions implemented during the 1980s and 1990s have led Florida prisons to incarcerate low-level offenders for unnecessarily lengthy sentences when many could be better served through alternative treatments and sanctions. This approach to sentencing results in the waste of valuable resources, at great expense to Florida taxpayers.

This report recommends the implementation of a “Judicial Safety Valve” that would give judges the discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums for low-level offenders, but maintain the rights of victims, offenders, their attorneys, and the state to have input on sentencing decisions at sentencing hearings. Judicial Safety Valves targeting varying populations of offenders implemented by federal and other state governments have improved offender outcomes and reduced strains on corrections systems and taxpayers at little or no risk to public safety.

Watch this short video about the report:

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