Florida may soon rename its Criminal Punishment Code under a bill OK’d Tuesday by a Senate committee.
Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo, the measure (SB 260) would change the name to the Criminal Public Safety Code.
The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice voted unanimously to approve the bill without debate or amendments.
“I think we invite all Floridians to get involved in the work that we do by simply beginning with the ethos of changing from punishment to public safety,” said Pizzo, a former prosecutor.
According to a staff analysis, the main purpose of the current code is to “punish the offender.”
“Rehabilitation is a desired goal of the criminal justice system but is subordinate to the goal of punishment,” explains the staff analysis.
The proposal, however, would prioritize “public safety” and “rehabilitation” instead. The bill would have no other substantial impact.
“The bill revises this statement to emphasize that rehabilitation, while a desired goal, is subordinate to the goal of public safety,” says the staff analysis.
Pizzo’s proposal, which awaits two additional committee stops, is among a slew of criminal justice reform measures sponsored by the South Florida lawmaker.
Pizzo is also sponsoring a bill that would upgrade the charge for having sex with an animal from a misdemeanor to a felony.
“The level of offense, even when it’s a felony has been so low, for so long, it makes putting any kind of teeth or substance into a prosecution difficult,” he said. “It has to involve a large number of animals … to have any sort of case of substance.”
Pizzo is also proposing legislation that would allow animals to have an advocate in certain court proceedings.
The measure to rename Florida’s Criminal Punishment code moves next to the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Rules Committee.
If signed into law, the measure would take effect July 1, 2022.
The 2022 Legislative Session begins Jan. 11.