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Criminal justice

Andrew Warren: ‘Stand your ground’ changes bad for law enforcement

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Florida Legislature is considering significant changes to the “stand your ground” law that will make our communities less safe and unnecessarily disrupt our criminal justice system while doing nothing to protect those who legally own guns. The Legislature also has falsely suggested the proposed changes will have no financial impact. The proposed legislation fundamentally changes our jury system by requiring, for the first time in Florida legal history, that state prosecutors would have to disprove a legal defense to…

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Panel finds no easy answers on costs of voter rights restoration

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A state panel struggled Monday to figure out a price tag for the proposed Florida Voter Restoration Amendment, which would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference heard testimony from a variety of state criminal justice agencies indicating it might be hard to nail down what the amendment would cost. The panel planned to reconvene next week for additional study. Amy Baker, coordinator for the Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research, the…

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Jeff Brandes turns attention to criminal justice reform

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

It’s been overlooked for years, but criminal justice reform could be coming down the pike. Sen. Jeff Brandes said he hopes to make reforming the system a top priority, but told the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists it could take years before reforms are achieved. Calls for reform aren’t new, but they are growing louder. In March, former Attorney General Bob Butterworth and Judge Simone Marstille penned an op-ed to outline the need for reforms. Calls for change have come…

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New report suggests ways government efficiency can save Florida taxpayers billions

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Florida Government Efficiency Task Force released a 29-point report Thursday that it said could produce billions in annual savings for Florida taxpayers. “These 29 recommendations, if implemented, will lead to over $2 billion in cost-savings for the taxpayers of Florida as well as improving the functions of our state government,” said Task Force Chairman John Alexander. “I strongly urge the Florida Legislature to enact these recommendations and Governor Scott to approve them so that together we can ensure that…

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Senate passes stand your ground expansion, gun bills

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Florida Senate has passed a bill that would expand the state’s “stand your ground” law to place more burden on prosecutors to prove self-defense wasn’t a factor when charging someone with assaulting or killing another person. The Senate voted 24-12 for the bill on Thursday. If the bill becomes law, the state would have to prove at a pretrial hearing that a defendant invoking stand your ground wasn’t acting in self-defense. Right now the burden of proof is on…

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Public defender: Fees for pleas lead to unequal justice

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Criminal defendants in three central Florida counties often face a stark choice, a public defender says: Pay hundreds of dollars in fees that help fund the prosecutors’ office, as a condition of reaching a plea deal, or face trial and risk stiffer punishment. Now public defender Rex Dimmig says that the practice creates unequal treatment for the criminal justice system’s poorest defendants. “My office only represents indigent people, and they ought to be entitled to the same punishment for the…

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