There is a national dialog going on with regard to the over-criminalization in the United States. I could write extensively on the subject, but the short answer is we’re wasting money now for political scare tactics and false security, with lock-um all up policies.
We now have more than 1.5 million felons living in Florida. That’s 10 percent of the adult population who have to check the “convicted felon” box on an employment application, give up gun ownership and forgo other rights and benefits for life. Most of the convictions in Florida consist of 3rd. degree felonies. Many of these crimes are simple violations, possession of marijuana, minor gambling violations and such. These “crimes” should be shifted to civil violations or misdemeanors. For many that felony on their records means that Florida taxpayers will subsidize them for years if not their entire lives.
And for what, the violations were not violent. These violations often lead to probation, which is often violated by technical mistakes, like missing an appointment or inability to pay the officer for the month. Now, these otherwise productive citizens are incarcerated. While 95% of prisoners are released to the public, these people often arrive as damaged goods. And that felony on their records, means many jobs and careers are no longer available to them. In the words of Dan McCarthy, a former prosecutor and writer, “It’s time for Florida to look at crime and punishment from a different angle. Incarcerate those who are dangerous and commit violent offenses. But let’s rethink prison sentences for the least severe third degree felonies in Florida law.”