Florida’s costly Criminal Justice system has been the subject of many studies through the years about potential cost savings. One Democratic State Representative has a creative solution that will provide a humanitarian approach and save the state money.
Earlier this week, Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) filed legislation to create a conditional release program for elderly inmates. HB 785 would create a supervised conditional release program for certain eligible low-risk, elderly inmates as a more efficient use public money to protect citizens. Currently, only a handful of elderly inmates are released early each year if a person is deemed to be “terminally ill” or “permanently incapacitated.”
Inmates eligible for the program must be 65 or older and have no prior violent felony convictions. Any inmate with more than two prior criminal violations would not be eligible for the program. The plan is expected to serve more than 800 Florida inmates, and could mean taxpayer savings as much as $1.4 million in the first year it is implemented.
“Florida is facing huge costs in our Department of Corrections budget”, said Representative Edwards. “I am encouraged by the Governor’s leadership in better funding the Department’s critical needs, but we must do better for Florida inmates, corrections employees, taxpayers, and most importantly, the children and families who live, work and play in our communities. This bill will focus spending on programs to truly improve the safety of our communities, and ensure Florida taxpayers’ hard-earned money is not wasted incarcerating nonthreatening Florida seniors.”
It is estimated that housing senior inmates can cost as much as $55,000 a year due to healthcare costs and other needs. Putting in place an early release program makes sense for taxpayers and is a compassionate piece of legislation that allows seniors who have done time the ability to live the remainder of their lives in dignity.
I am from Michigan so I do not have voting rights in Florida. Keep up the compassionate work for prison reform and include those who are not 65 or over. One prisoner I personally know has been there over 25 years and this exceeds the time for the non violent crime. I don’t have all the details but he surely is a decent man. Pauline A. Curtis