Democrats form justice and safety reform task force to advise local governments

Andrew Warren, Carlos Martinez, and Walt McNeil
Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren will chair the task force.

Florida Democrats want to develop and offer local governments some best-practice models for criminal justice reform, developed by a new task force composed of law enforcement and justice officials.

The Florida Democratic Party’s Safety & Justice Task Force will feature Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, who will serve as chair; Miami-Dade County Public Defender Carlos Martinez; Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil; Teen Leaders of America Executive Director Marcia Brown of Jacksonville; and Agency for Community Treatment Services Executive Director Asha Terminello of Tampa.

Democrats are tasking them with meeting with local leaders, law enforcement, and victim advocates to develop criminal justice and safety reform models the party says would “help bring Florida’s justice system into the 21st Century.”

With little or no influence over statewide criminal justice policymaking, Democrats say they seek models to offer cities and counties, and then work with local leaders “to improve the effectiveness and fairness of law enforcement agencies, prosecutor’s offices, and the criminal justice system as a whole.”

“Floridians have bold ideas for modernizing our justice system — reducing violent crime, extending treatment to people with mental illness or substance abuse, and improving accountability for law enforcement,” FDP Chair Manny A. Diaz said in a news release issued by the party. “This Task Force will lead a statewide conversation that brings forward the best of those ideas, all focused on building a criminal justice system that is less wasteful and more effective at keeping our communities safe.”

The task force will look at three goals: reducing crime by tackling the root causes of criminal behavior and minimizing recidivism; prioritizing prosecutions of the greatest threat to communities, while offering alternatives to low-level offenders; and building stronger bonds between law enforcement and communities.

“The members of our Task Force have all seen a different face of the justice system. Law enforcement, prosecution, defense, rehabilitation, prevention — all these perspectives will help us ask the right questions and find real, workable solutions to make our communities safer and our system more fair and effective,” Warren said.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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