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Jails could House Inmates Longer under Senate Plan

December 7th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

County jails could soon see inmates serving more time behind bars. Right now, anyone sentenced to more than a year goes to state prison, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, A Committee in the state Capitol today voted to extend the time to two years.

Despite a massive effort to hire more correction officers, state prisons remain chronically understaffed. State Senators put Corrections Secretary Julie Jones on the hot seat Thursday.

“We’re two thousand down from 16 thousand.”

Now, lawmakers are floating the idea of shifting non violent short timers to local jails. State Senator Rob Bradley wants to double the time people can spent in county jails..from one year to two.

“We need to lower the number of prisoners that the Department of Corrections handles” Bradley told committee members.

Local jails would be paid, but that has been a problem in other states where sheriffs turned incarnation into a cash cows says Scott McCoy of the Southern Poverty Law Center

“Similar policies have contributed to massive jail expansion.”

Q:” Is there more incentive to incarcerate more people by building more jails?

“Well, there is, because there is a profit motive” says McCoy.

One fear being raised is that judges will sentence people to longer terms just to get them out of the local jail and into state prison.

Sponsor Rob Bradley downplayed the fear.

“That is a unconstitutional system that is devoid of justice” says Bradley

Public Defenders like the concept of keeping people closer to home, says Nancy Daniels, who advocates for FL Public Defenders Association, but have stopped short of endorsing the idea until more details are worked out.

“If there was a jail with a really good work release program, where people could keep their jobs is they have to do a state DOC sentence, there could be some major advantages” says Daniels.

Sheriffs say they have about 500 empty beds on any given day.

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