We are concerned that the Florida First Step Act is less likely to benefit black and brown people and may exacerbate racial disparities in our prison population.
Unlike the federal First Step Act, the Florida version doesn’t include any investment in mental health services, substance abuse treatment, educational programs or job training, much less get anyone out of prison.
To make the proposed criminal justice reforms more equitable, we urge the sponsors of the Florida First Step Act to make five changes:
• Require a racial impact assessment six months after the Florida First Step Act goes into effect and mandate a racial impact statement for future criminal justice bills.
• Eliminate carve-outs so people with a previous conviction who have already served their time can be eligible for judicial discretion in sentencing and have the same opportunities to earn gain time toward an earlier release date.
• Increase the current cap of 15 percent on gain time to incentivize good behavior and rehabilitation.
• Fully fund the Department of Corrections, including previously cut mental health and substance abuse treatment funding and an additional $25 million to create opportunities for rehabilitation.
• Ensure that technical violations of probation or parole do not result in returning to jail or prison.