Rehab-Bill Veto: Wasteful Prison Spending

Posted: April 26, 2012 in News and politics

When Rick Scott ran for governor, the correctional officers union filled the airways with an attack ad depicting a Scott look-alike emptying out Florida’s prisons — even shaking hands with grinning inmates about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting society.

It didn’t work. Scott was elected, despite his promise to slash prison budgets.

It turns out that Floridians don’t have to worry about Scott throwing open prison gates. Now that he’s in office, Scott is proving to be just another lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key politician.

Scott vetoed a bill this month that would have allowed release from hard time for inmates with drug-addiction problems who had successfully completed rehabilitation programs and adult education courses.

“Justice to victims of crime is not served when a criminal is permitted to be released early from a sentence imposed by the courts,” Scott wrote in his veto message.

 

CONSERVATIVE CONFUSION

What’s interesting about this veto is that even conservative-leaning organizations, such as Florida TaxWatch, have begun to argue that Florida locks too many people up for too long — mostly on drug-related charges — and that providing more opportunities for inmates to undergo rehabilitation and counseling and earn their way back into society would not only be cost effective but better serve the cause of justice.

The bill vetoed by Scott would have only provided a few hundred of Florida’s 100,000 inmates an opportunity to earn their way back into society. It would have applied only to nonviolent offenders.

“This was a very small step toward prison reform,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Ari Porth, of Coral Springs, told the Tampa Bay Times last week.

Nonetheless it was a good start coming from a Legislature that for years has been more apt to pass ever-tougher sentencing laws than provide the treatment, education, rehabilitation and supervision programs needed to safely reduce the state’s prison population — not to mention its budget for corrections of more than $2 billion.

The veto wasn’t controversial. It passed unanimously in the state Senate and drew just 4 negative votes in the more conservative House.

Scott’s veto is a discouraging sign that sensible correction reform is not on this governor’s radar screen. But at least nobody will be able to accuse our governor of throwing open the prison gates when he runs for re-election.

<!–When Rick Scott ran for governor, the correctional officers union filled the airways with an attack ad depicting a Scott look-alike emptying out Florida's prisons — even shaking hands with grinning inmates about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting society.

It didn't work. Scott was elected, despite his promise to slash prison budgets.

It turns out that Floridians don't have to worry about Scott throwing open prison gates. Now that he's in office, Scott is proving to be just another lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key politician.

Scott vetoed a bill this month that would have allowed release from hard time for inmates with drug-addiction problems who had successfully completed rehabilitation programs and adult education courses.

"Justice to victims of crime is not served when a criminal is permitted to be released early from a sentence imposed by the courts," Scott wrote in his veto message.

 

CONSERVATIVE CONFUSION

What’s interesting about this veto is that even conservative-leaning organizations, such as Florida TaxWatch, have begun to argue that Florida locks too many people up for too long — mostly on drug-related charges — and that providing more opportunities for inmates to undergo rehabilitation and counseling and earn their way back into society would not only be cost effective but better serve the cause of justice.

The bill vetoed by Scott would have only provided a few hundred of Florida’s 100,000 inmates an opportunity to earn their way back into society. It would have applied only to nonviolent offenders.

“This was a very small step toward prison reform,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Ari Porth, of Coral Springs, told the Tampa Bay Times last week.

Nonetheless it was a good start coming from a Legislature that for years has been more apt to pass ever-tougher sentencing laws than provide the treatment, education, rehabilitation and supervision programs needed to safely reduce the state’s prison population — not to mention its budget for corrections of more than $2 billion.

The veto wasn’t controversial. It passed unanimously in the state Senate and drew just 4 negative votes in the more conservative House.

Scott’s veto is a discouraging sign that sensible correction reform is not on this governor’s radar screen. But at least nobody will be able to accuse our governor of throwing open the prison gates when he runs for re-election.

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