Sen. Crist holds workshop on criminal justice
Florida Sen. Victor Crist, chairman of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, hosted a workshop in Tampa today to gather information on how to cut costs in the criminal justice system. The emphasis was on programs to keep people out of prison or keep them from going back. "Criminal justice is an expensive process. If we can prevent people from coming into the system, we can save millions of dollars that could be redirected to education, health services and economic development," Crist said. "To simply throw them in a cell and throw away the key is not the right way to go."
Among those on the panel: Senators Arthenia Joyner and Alex Villalobos; state Representatives Kevin Ambler and Will Weatherford; Department of Corrections secretary Walt McNeil; and Rod Love from the Department of Juvenile Justice.
One by one, more than 40 speakers went to the podium to tout their educational, vocational mental health and other programs. Crist said he was particularly pleased to have Weatherford on the panel to glean information about diversion and preventive programs since Weatherford will be the speaker of the Florida House in a few years. "He's the future," said Crist, who is term-limited out of his Senate seat in 2010. He's a candidate for the Hillsborough County Commission.
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer