Activists push for criminal justice reform

- Activists held a forum in West Tampa on Monday ahead of the state lawmaking session in hopes of boosting enthusiasm around a wish list of criminal justice reforms.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Florida houses about 100,000 inmates, and that it costs the state $2.3 billion a year.
    
Their wish list includes:
    
-Changing mandatory minimum sentences
    
-Reforming the bail system so the poor don't stay in for longer than the rich

-Allowing those accused of certain non-driving offenses to keep their licenses

--Raising the bar on what would constitute grand theft
    
-Encouraging local governments to adopt citation and diversion programs instead of sending people to jail

The session opens in March, and they're hoping to see at least a half-dozen bills filed.

Two bills have been filed so far.

"We need to be smart on crime and smart on justice," said State Sen. Darryl Rouson. "It has not served us either economically or socially to do the lock him up mentality, and throw away the key. Minimum mandatories have cost us in terms of social reentry in terms of inmates, as well as economics."

Florida is one of seventeen states that have failed to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform since 2007, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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