Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Moving Forward on Legislative Change

Last month we met with our friends at the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) to discuss pretrial release programs and their expansion in our state (12% last year alone despite a 6.7% reduction in crime). At the time we hoped we could convene a timely meeting to work together on a functional resolution for limiting this expansion without the need for legislation. We believe all sides parted in good faith with that goal in mind.

And while that good faith still exists, to date, a meeting has not taken place to discuss this issue.

Government-funded pretrial release programs continue to expand – even while the FDLE reports that crime in Florida is dropping – and they now cost Florida taxpayers nearly $30,000,000 per year according to the most recent Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA) report.

We have reached out to our friends at FSA to let them know that our agents need relief, they want relief, and while some worry about the impact of legislative action, we simply cannot let another session come and go without some action.

To that end, we wanted you to be among the first to know that we are moving forward in support of a bill filed by State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff (SB 372) that primarily states:
It is the policy of this state that only defendants who are indigent and who qualify for the services of the public defender are eligible to participate in a pretrial release program.

We expect to announce a House sponsor in the coming days and we hope that each and every one of you will contact your local lawmakers and let them know that taxpayers should not be footing the bill for those who can afford bail.

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