« "Tell the Client's Story: Mitigation in Criminal and Death Penalty Cases" | Main | After his guilty plea to a civil rights offense, what federal guideline range and ultimate sentence will Michael Slager face for killing Walter Scott? »

May 2, 2017

Florida legislative debate provides interesting sign of the modern mandatory-minimum drug sentencing times

This new local article from Florida, headlined "Steube bill aimed at curbing overdoses sparks drug sentencing debate," highlights how legislators even in traditionally "tough" states are starting to have much more nuanced discussions about mandatory minimum sentencing proposals. Here are the interesting details:

Legislation aimed at tackling the opioid epidemic in Florida sparked a debate about mandatory minimum drug sentences in the state Senate Tuesday, prompting an amendment that put the measure sponsored by two Southwest Florida lawmakers in jeopardy.

Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, have been pushing a bill that would establish penalties for the possession of large amounts of fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid often laced with heroin — and its many derivatives.  Manatee and Sarasota counties were the top two communities in the state for fentanyl-related deaths per capita in 2015, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.  Fentanyl was responsible for 911 deaths across Florida in 2015, and continues to be a major health crisis across the state.

But mandatory minimum drug sentences have come under increasing scrutiny nationwide and there is bipartisan concern in the Florida Legislature about what many lawmakers view as overly harsh sentencing laws.  The fentanyl bill — with the mandatory minimums included — already has passed the House, but both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate took aim at the sentencing aspect of the bill Tuesday.

The Senate amended the bill — over Steube’s objections — to strip out the mandatory minimums, which included at least three years in jail for possession of between four and 14 grams, at least 15 years for possession of between 14 and 28 grams and at least 25 years for possession of more than 28 grams. That amendment may kill the bill. Boyd does not seem inclined to push for it now, saying in a text message: “I don’t believe the bill deals with this deadly opioid problem” as amended.

Boyd said if the House takes up the Senate bill he would seek to strip off the sentencing amendment. But that likely would keep it from clearing the Senate. Steube noted that the amended legislation still makes possession of large amounts of fentanyl a crime for the first time.  “We’re still taking — in my opinion — a good step in the right direction,” Steube said of the amended bill.

The Senate debate showed the appetite within the chamber for criminal justice reform, an issue that has been championed by Republican Senate President Joe Negron.

Some lawmakers argued that any reforms tackling mandatory minimum sentences should be done in a comprehensive way and that the fentanyl bill was not the right place to start the discussion. “I have some concerns about how we have these bills come along and we put minimum mandatories on them every year,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island. But Bradley added that the Senate needs to have a “global discussion” about the issue and argued against the amendment.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, countered that “it’s the right conversation to have because minimum mandatories don’t work in my opinion.”  Judges need to have discretion over when to crack down and when to show leniency added Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. Tough drug sentencing laws can destroy lives, he said.

Steube said he is sympathetic to concerns about mandatory minimums but believes reform efforts should start with a drug such as marijuana that is not deadly.  “I certainly didn’t want this bill to be the bill that’s talked about,” he said.

The amendment was proposed by Sen. Randolph Bracy, one of the few Democrats in the chamber to chair a committee.  The Orlando lawmaker was not expecting the amendment to generate such a robust debate.  He hopes to address the issue of mandatory minimums in a broad way in his committee next year.

May 2, 2017 at 05:21 PM | Permalink

Comments

WELCOME TO THE GREAT BROTHERHOOD OF KINGDOM OF RICHES
[ILLUMINATI] OF THE WHOLE WORLD WIDE
.
ARE YOU A BUSINESS MAN, POLITICIAN , musical, student and you
want to be rich, powerful and be famous in life. You can achieve your dreams being a
member of the Illuminati.With this all your dreams and heart desire can be fully
accomplish. it’s well-known fact that we Freemasonry/ ILLUMINATI consist of Multi
Millionaires, Billionaires who have major influence regarding most global affairs,
including the planning of a New World Order. Many world leaders, Presidents, Prime
Ministers, royalty and senior executives of major Fortune 5,000 companies are
members of Freemasonry. Now, for the FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, we are opening our doors to the masses. JOINING THE ILLUMINATI BRINGS YOU INTO THE LIMELIGHT OF THE WORLD IN WHICH YOU LIVE IN TODAY. YOUR
FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES ARE BROUGHT TO AN END. WE SUPPORT YOU BOTH FINANCIALLY AND MATERIALLY TO ENSURE YOU LIVE A COMFORTABLE LIFE. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHICH PART OF THE WORLD YOU LIVE IN.

contact us as soon as possible famousilluminatimoney666@gmail.com or call +2349037326964 if you are really interested so that you can become a great man or woman in life and become a multi billionaires.

If you wish to be a member of this great brothershood of kingdom of riches this is
your opportunity to join us now become a great multi billionaires and obtain riches, fame and power to control things you wish to control.
CONTACT email: famousilluminatimoney666@gmail.com
0r whatsapp or call +2349037326964. ................,,,

Posted by: cifer smith | May 9, 2017 5:14:51 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB