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AP Day: Ashley Moody open to ‘improving’ criminal justice

Florida’s new Attorney General speaks on the Florida First Step Act.

It’s possible that Florida’s new top cop will play a role in criminal justice reform efforts.

Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody told media during Wednesday’s AP Day at the Capitol that she believes leaders shouldn’t shy from “improving how we’re doing things.”

“And I believe that is true for the criminal justice system,” Moody added. 

Reporters questioned Moody on what has been described as the Florida First Step Act.

Announced last week by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, the criminal justice overhaul attempt is expected to mirror much of the federal First Step Act, signed by President Donald Trump in December.

The legislation could include measures that would create more diversion opportunities, Brandes has said. Related bills could also seek to offer more judicial discretion and opportunities to resentence offenders.

Brandes has filed legislation like SB 406, which would raise the felony-theft threshold from $300 to $1,500. He has also filed SB 400, which would give judges discretion in sentencing certain nonviolent drug offenders.

“I’m in the process of seeing and reviewing all of the bills that were filed,” Moody said when asked about the two pieces of legislation, versions of which could appear as parts of the Florida First Step Act.

During a meeting with Brandes about criminal justice reforms, Moody said the two shared ideas on how to address “recidivism and crime in Florida in a more effective, responsible way to taxpayers.”

“Senator Brandes is passionate about making sure that we’re learning from the past and being accountable to the taxpayers and … using resources effectively — I will always support that,” Moody said. “Now, whether or not I can support specific individual legislation is another question.”

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A former prosecutor and former judge, Moody said she would take a balanced approach when choosing whether to support criminal justice bills.

“People that are a danger to our communities must pay a price,” Moody said. “I have said in any effort to make our system better we must always be mindful that we have an obligation to keep our communities safe and protect Floridians, and that will always be my primary concern.”

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AP Day at the Capitol is hosted by The Associated Press. Several state leaders are slated to speak to media from across the state throughout the day. Check back for continued coverage.

Written By

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at dmcauliffe500@gmail.com.

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