On Friday, May 3, Florida's state House of Representatives passed a 296-page criminal justice reform bill during the last day of the legislative session. This criminal justice reform bill had been months in the making covering a bevy of topics that were due for an update in the state of Florida. While many proposed changes didn't make it completely through, the changes that did pass are considered a small, but nice victory for the criminal justice system in Florida.
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a case that challenges the state of Florida's ban on openly carrying a firearm in public. With a refusal to hear the case, the ban on openly carrying firearms remains in place in the state of Florida.
In early July, a Florida man entered a pond in Brevard County and drowned. Standing nearby was a group of five teens that recorded the entire incident on video. Instead of seek help for the man, who they taunted and cursed at while he struggled in the water, the teens simply let him drown without calling for help or trying to assist the man. Additionally, the teens did not report the incident to authorities, but they did post the video of the death on social media. While the victim's family was filing a missing persons report, unsure of where their loved one was at the time, the teens showed no remorse as witnesses to a drowning. The body of the man was located a few days later, and police were able to link the teens' video to the man's death.
At the height of the "pill mill" crisis in Florida, we saw an increase in dependency and deaths related to opioid addiction, primarily addition to certain prescribed painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and morphine. Florida was ground zero for the consumption and black market of these drugs. Otherwise law-abiding citizens were caught up in the illegal sale and consumption of dangerous prescribed painkillers, constantly seeking the euphoric high associated with these drugs.
Florida's legacy of harsh criminal sentencing is under the microscope lately as the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee concluded recently that too much state taxpayer money is being spent on people who have committed minor criminal offenses. The committee voted unanimously for SB 290, which ends minimum mandatory sentences for non-violent crimes. Liberal and conservative advocates have been pushing to reform Florida's historically harsh mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes for some time now, as these types of statutes have bogged down the judicial system and crowded prisons around the state.