Dianne Hart, supporters make final gain-time push
Rep. Susan Valdés, D-Tampa, speaks in support of a bill for increased gain-time by Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa.

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Only three weeks remain for the House to take action on gain-time.

Rep. Dianne Hart and lawmakers backing gain-time reform continued their plea Friday for the House to consider their legislation.

The push comes at the culmination of a week that saw crime survivors for and sheriffs against gain-time reform take to the floor outside both chambers to make their cases. But with three weeks remaining in the 60-day Session, the window for legislative action is closing as House leadership gives the issue no airtime.

“I say to my sheriff’s around the state of Florida, if you really want to be a part of the solution, then why don’t you participate?” said Hart, a Tampa Democrat.

Her legislation (HB 189) would reduce the minimum amount nonviolent offenders must serve to 65% of their sentences, down from the current minimum of 85%. That change could reduce the inmate population by 10% and save the state $880 million over the next five years, money which Rep. Susan Valdés, a bill co-sponsor, says could be reinvested into the criminal justice system.

In her eyes, exceptional staff turnover, a rise in violence and inmate mortality has is creating a recipe for systemic failure that is dangerous for both inmates and correctional officers.

“The corruption that we have seen has run deeper than being simply a product of low pay and underfunding, and even then, that can never be a justification for abusive acts or corruption,” said Valdés, a Tampa Democrat.

And Hart thanked Sens. Randolph Bracy and Jeff Brandes for sponsoring companions to her bill. Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who has leading roles on the Senate Criminal Justice and justice appropriations committees, added language to his bill (SB 572) to keep the gain-time effort alive in the upper house.

Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat and self-described advocate for the incarcerated, shared her background of criminal acts that were never caught. Florida Sheriffs Association past president Michael Adkinson noted Tuesday that many imprisoned for drug trafficking violations are repeat offenders, but if Daniels can change, she believes others can too.

“I believe, the way the system has been working, it’s causing more recidivism because when people feel like they have no hope and when they can’t come out and reenter and come into a society where they feel welcomed, then it makes crime worse,” she said.

For Rep. Delores Hogan Johnson, judges also need to view education, counseling and drug rehab as options alongside prison sentencing.

“I want our legislators, our sheriffs, our prison, all of them to understand that there is a righteous difference between justice and vengeance, and a lot of the sentencing is vengeance,” she said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


3 comments

  • Mary Morss

    February 22, 2020 at 3:14 am

    I am the mother of a son incarceration for what the state of Florida may call a violent crime aggravated battery with a firearm. My son was beaten,suffered head concussion,and was the one charged he was 17 years old at the time with disability,he was given a harsh sentences… of twenty years minimum mandatory,mainly due to the police which had it out against him. I.am for reform.

  • Elizabeth kaifos

    February 23, 2020 at 4:34 am

    The problem in florida DOC is the same people we pay to maintain order and treat these inmates as humans and not animals I have a loved one in a florida prison and its is inhuman and disgusting the way they are treated!Florida sentencing is way too harsh for a mistake made by a young adult and to give them a life sentence for a mistake is not justice nor does warehousing them in horrible conditions a way to correct a one time mistake ..the system doesn’t help the problem because they are the problem!not the inmates every one deserves a 2nd chance at life and when a loved one goes to prison so do their families.

  • Sarah

    March 7, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    excuse me after these inmates does the time given to them the day they are released there shouldn’t be more punishment after that date with all these stupid laws .i call that double jeopardy due to the fact they served their time and they should be set free with no other ties to them , this gps system gives false reports yet the inmate is violated by the cops and back to prison they go , this having to pay an officer to rule your life is a bunch of crap ,just another way for FDOC to make yet more money off said people .
    The 65 % I understand I’d mostly for the drug dealers , come on people you have to be smarter than this . The ones they know won’t be back they don’t fit into this 65% crap , cause they know that once released as a drug dealer you are going to go back doing it again they will let them get lots of money gathered up ,cars, homes, etc and BOOM YOUR BUSTED ! We get all your money, we get your house, we get your everything and back to prison you go .this should be for all inmates not just the chosen . There are some in those prisons that was set up by the cops ,they are some in there that didn’t get a fair trial ,yes there are some that might need help but not the abuse that they receive from the FDOC. Less prison sentences more outside help and all deserve the 65% not just the ones you know will be back . Florida you are a big disappointment to me well the judicial system is a bigger disappointment to me now that I’m older due to the years you took from me in The White Children’s Home back in 1963 in West Palm Beach Florida You was cruel then but you have gotten worst . May your family not have to pay for your corruption and God forgives them for your mistakes .God bless you all and may your state be the first to do what is actually the right thing to do ,give the 65 % to all inmates even those who was given life for some doesn’t deserve it yet the judge gave them life on the lies from the DA . Which she made great headlines to condemn this man .

Comments are closed.


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