HB 783, the progressive Criminal Justice reform legislation sponsored by Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) advanced through the Criminal Justice Committee Monday afternoon. The legislation is predictably supported by the state’s public defenders but opposed by prosecutors throughout the state. Rep. Edwards has worked with Republicans, some of which believed her proposal was too far reaching and ambitious to craft a reasonable compromise that would still prevent any child under 13 from being tried in an adult court.
However, these efforts weren’t enough for one committee member who happens to be a Democrat – Rep. Dave Kerner (D-Lake Worth). The opposition of Kerner based on his comments Monday, largely mirror the lobbying talking points of The Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association (FPAA). The FPAA which counts the infamous Angela Corey among its leading members has employed an aggressive effort to kill this legislation by misrepresenting its scope at times and expressing concerns about how editing direct file would impact State Attorney’s throughout the state.
Nonetheless, the legislation has a broad base of support from the Southern Poverty Law Center, to the ACLU, to Florida PTA. Former Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Waters also supports the legislation and spoke in its favor of the proposed changes at the Criminal Justice Committee hearing.
We will continue to track this legislation as it works its way through the process.