Senate Bill Challenges Law on Mandatory Minimum For Drug Traffickers
Under Florida law, first-time non-violent offenders for drug trafficking can face mandatory minimum prison sentences of 25 years. These drug trafficking laws have been long criticized as inefficient and expensive. The Department of Corrections reports that in 2008, almost 6,000 individuals were serving mandatory minimum drug sentences costing taxpayers almost $120 million each year! Of those incarcerated, 544 were prescription drug offenders and most of them are addicts. The cost of incarcerating these offenders is almost $1 billion.
State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale and Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, have introduced a bill to the Senate and House proposing the elimination of mandatory prison sentences. The bipartisan support of the bill shows that legislatures on both sides of the political spectrum recognize the need for reform in drug trafficking sentencing law.
If the drug trafficking sentencing bill is enacted, non-violent first-time offenders would reap the direct benefit. The reformed law would effectively take the power for sentencing back from the State Attorneys’ Office and turn it over to the judiciary, allowing judges to take into consideration the facts and circumstances of each unique drug trafficking case.