Jeff Brandes files (another) criminal justice reform bill, this one to reduce sentences for reoffenders

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The bill would qualify some reoffenders for shorter sentences.

Sen. Jeff Brandes filed another in a long line of criminal justice reform bills Friday.

His latest bill (SB 1716) seeks to reduce sentences for former inmates who reoffend within three years of being released from prison.

The measure would allow qualifying inmates to apply for a re-sentencing hearing to reduce their sentences.

People who are considered prison release reoffenders faces tougher penalties than first-time offenders. The bill maintains that consequence, but provides a path to reduce mandatory minimums under that provision slightly.

The measure would reduce life sentences to 25-years, first degree felony minimums from 30 years to 20 years, second degree felonies from 15 to 10 years and third degree felonies from five to three years.

The potential reduced sentences would apply retroactively. Individuals who qualified as a prison release reoffender before July 1, 2010 who have not been sentenced as such before July 1, 2020 cannot be sentenced as one.

Those who have been sentenced as a prison release reoffender after qualifying as such after July 1, 2010 would have to be re-sentenced under the bill’s new sentencing guidelines.

The bill would also add language to Florida sentencing laws making reoffenders eligible for gain-time credits to reduced their sentences and would protect individuals from facing more jail time under the new sentencing than they would have under their previous sentence when taking into consideration time served.

Prison release reoffender status applies to people convicted of a variety of offenses including murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, carjacking, robbery, arson, kidnapping, aggravated stalking and assault, among others who reoffend within three years of being released on charges resulting in sentences punishable by more than one year in prison.

Reoffender status also applies to those who commit crimes while still serving their sentence or who commit a crime as an escapee.

Brandes has filed more than a dozen criminal justice reform bills for the 2020 Legislative Session aiming to reduce prison population, protect prison guards and make the system as a whole more sustainable.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


8 comments

  • Brenda Kay Spitzbarth

    January 10, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Prisoner Releasee Reoffender law, first passed in 1997. It enhanced sentences excessively. Many convicted to extremely long sentences had low level crimes. Discretion for sentencing was taken from judges and given to prosecutors causing unfair sentencing that has gone beyond punishment and retribution. We’ve created a system that Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch says is unsustainable. Vote for SB 1716. It’s the right thing to do.

  • Patricia

    January 11, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    I am in FULL support of BOTH Senator Brandes’s bills regarding the PRR Law…this is the most draconian law on the books…I encourage everyone to Vote for SB 1308 AND the most recently filed SB 1716.

    • Jessica M Haller

      January 13, 2020 at 2:42 am

      How an where do you vote? I’m in too!

      • Patricia McNamara

        January 13, 2020 at 9:51 pm

        We want House votes for these bills to be passed but you can advocate for them and by showing your support at Lobby Day on 2/5/2020! You can join and follow FAMM and Florida Cares and some other local Criminal Justice Reform groups who can tell you where to send emails to in support of the bills…which is the best way to become INVOLVED…you can track all 2020 proposed bills on FL Senate Website…as FL residents we need to be heard!

  • Jannet Porter

    January 16, 2020 at 9:43 pm

    I hope this gets passed!!

    • Patricia McNamara

      January 17, 2020 at 6:00 pm

      SUPPORT SB 1716

      This bill has been referred to Criminal Justice; Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice; and Appropriations TODAY!!! You can show your support for this bill by emailing your State Senators! Email info for our Senators is on the FL Senate website! Let them know that you are in FULL SUPPORT of this bill SB 1716 and also SB 1308 which is another bill pertaining to the PRR – Prison Releasee Reoffender Law! The passing of these two bills together in 2020 would offer so many inmates a FAIR chance at reduction in their sentencing…benefit of gain-time and offer them so much light at the end of their tunnel!! The current PRR Law is extremely harsh and unfair to many and needs amending badly! If these laws pass it will bring our families some relief and back together, also benefit the state saving them millions of dollars which can applied to other areas in need of reform…so yes…SUPPORT SB 1308 and SB 1716!!

  • June Morgan

    January 24, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Finally, maybe some relief for these guys. I fully support this bill. the punishment should fit the crime. A child grows up knowing the parent behind bars for something so many years ago. PRR not just punishes the offenders, whole families are affected. I believe that not everyone will change their ways for learn from their mistakes, but the ones that honestly do should get that second chance.

    • Patricia

      January 24, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      Awesome! I agree with you supporting this bill!! If you want to show support for this bill please email James Grant…Christopher Sprowls and Paul Renner as they need to know we are all in support of the SB 1716….also the SB 1308 is another bill pertaining to Life sentencing for PRR inmates! These two bills MUST pass this session for the relief of many and reduced sentencing for those who qualify!! Also join many Criminal Justice Reform advocates on 2/5/2020 in Tallahasse for Lobby Day! This is a big event! Spread the word! We need to show full support for our loved ones and all other inmates who have been sentenced excessively under this law!!

Comments are closed.


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