In The Public Interest
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Justice

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In Florida, Fees, Fines From Felonies Means Disenfranchised

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fines: Woman in matching colorful dress, head wrap, rests right arm on books on shelves.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ten years ago, Rosemary McCoy never would have imagined that today she’d be in a Jacksonville library, tears streaming down her face, as she tells a stranger how it feels to be disenfranchised. Then she was a real estate professional with two decades’ experience, a wife, mother of two, an average, everyday citizen living a good life. Today she scrapes by on meager wages...

Florida in Debate Over Murder Charges for Drug Dealers Whose Buyers Die

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The move from Ohio to Florida was supposed to be a new beginning. On June 29, 2018, Timothy Sexton wrote on Facebook that he was nervous and excited to start his new job in Jacksonville. Though he’d miss his girlfriend and young son, who planned to join him in a few weeks, he wrote “it’s what’s best for my family, and I.” But the move turned out to be anything but the happy beginning the young...

Tampa State Attorney’s Proposed ‘Rocket Docket’ Would Help Ex-offenders Get Voting Rights Back

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Voting rights restoration Florida

Last November, Florida voters passed an amendment to the state constitution that automatically restores the right to vote to people convicted of felonies (except murderers and sex offenders) who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation.  But when the state legislature met this spring, it passed a bill, Senate Bill 7066, specifying that the ex-offenders pay back...

Jacksonville, Tampa Prosecutors Pursue Aggressive Reform Agendas With Public Support

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two grey-haired men listened silently in Courtroom 505 of the Duval County Courthouse on March 28 as Judge Angela M. Cox uttered the words that they’d waited the better part of 50 years to hear: “The indictments against you have been dismissed and you are free to go.” After spending more than 42 years in prison for murder and attempted murder, with that pronouncement Nathan...

Florida’s Bail System Hasn’t Changed in Jacksonville

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Image ID : 25678567 Media Type : Stock Photo Copyright : Sakhorn Saengtongsamarnsin

Michael Mills had run-ins with the law in his younger, wilder days. Now he is 43, an automotive repairman and father of four who lives in Baldwin, Fla., a quasi-independent municipality in Jacksonville. He thought that was all far behind him until he was arrested in September 2018 on felony charges of impersonating a police officer. As a small business owner, he had the means to pay a bail bonds...

Many Justice Reforms Are Proposed for Florida’s Legislative Session; Will Any Survive?

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JJIE.org

By Deirdra Funcheon  Thanks to decades of tough-on-crime policies, Florida now has the third-largest prison population in the United States — nearly 100,000 people, including more minors than any other state. Florida requires people to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences and has abolished parole. All this costs taxpayers $2.4 billion per year.  In the 1980s and 1990s, the crack epidemic...

Florida Is One of the Most Overincarcerated Places in U.S. Is It Likely to Change?

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Randy Ratledge doesn’t get out much. Since he was arrested in 2012, Ratledge, 61, has a fear of the police. He doesn’t like leaving his home, and definitely doesn’t like coming downtown, where he was locked up for 117 days. He faced 120 years in prison, and under the state’s minimum mandatory laws, a judge would have had no choice but to impose that sentence if he’d been...

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