Strong majority of Floridians support ‘smart justice’ reforms

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More than 80% of likely Republican voters in Florida support significant criminal and juvenile justice reform, according to a public opinion poll released today by the Florida TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice and Associated Industries of Florida, in consultation with Right on Crime.

800 registered Republicans were surveyed on their opinions on corrections reform following the recent release of afirst-of-its-kind review of Florida corrections data going back to 1995.  The review provided empirical data showing that Florida is spending far more on corrections than similar states, and incarcerating non-violent offenders at a significant cost to taxpayers, among other key findings.

“The Florida TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice was established to provide the state’s taxpayers with objective data and research to ensure public safety, save money, and carefully weigh the options of criminal and juvenile justice reform,” said Bob Stork, Chairman of the Florida TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice. “This poll offers decision makers a real glimpse into the public’s view of these critical public safety concerns.” 

Among the findings:

  •  86% agree that a person who is “tough on crime” can also support cost-effective programs  such as community supervision, mandatory drug testing and treatment that save taxpayer dollars and reduce future crime
  • 84% support major changes in the system that can send fewer non-violent offenders to prison and instead look to more cost-effective alternatives
  • 81% support evidence-driven, community based alternatives to juvenile prisons
  • 73% agree that fewer people convicted of non-violent crimes should be sent to prison and instead the savings should be redirected to create a stronger probation and parole system

“There are significant reforms that Florida can make immediately to improve public safety and save taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President & CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “We are encouraged by the results of this survey, showing that there is strong public support for the reforms that wehave recommended, and we look forward to helping the Legislature make the appropriate reforms this Session to save the taxpayers of Florida money while increasing public safety.”

The highlights of the poll and complete list of questions and results are available here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.