Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Texas lawmaker offers advice on Florida's burgeoning prison budget

TALLAHASSEE — Both Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders have pledged to offset the state's nearly $4 billion budget shortfall with cuts to the prison system.

With that in mind, Florida lawmakers heard testimony Monday from Texas state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, who sponsored prison reform legislation in his home state.

The overriding message: save money by keeping people out of prison with programs that address drug addiction, alcoholism and mental illness.

Madden said prisoners can largely be divided into three categories: those who will never return, those who are guaranteed to return, and those who won't return if they are enrolled in the right programs. It's the third category that gives you the most bang for your buck, he said.

"This is being tough on crime. It's tougher for a drug guy to take drug treatment than to spend a year and a day in jail," he said. "If someone's a drug addict, break their habit."

The goal, he said, is to keep people out of prison and not provide room, board and health care to people who are only a danger to society because of substance abuse or mental health problems.

"If he's locked up in your prisons for that, why don't you treat him? Particularly if he's one of those guys that may or may not come back," Madden said. "Don't spend one cent on a person who's always coming back, or the person who's never coming back."

Madden also suggested giving judges more leeway in sentencing guidelines, creating school programs to stop high-risk children from becoming criminals and changing penalties so minor parole violations and possession of small amounts of drugs don't result in extensive time behind bars.

Madden was speaking at a joint meeting of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and subcommittee on criminal and civil justice appropriations.

Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, asked if such measures prompt criticism of being soft on crime.

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, said Florida lawmakers considered some of Madden's suggestions in the past, but "it's politically difficult to do." Madden said that shouldn't be the case.

After the meeting, Evers said to cut the prison budget, Florida may need to revisit sentencing rules, including requiring offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentences, a recommendation made by Scott's transition team on prison reform.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Texas lawmaker offers advice on Florida's burgeoning prison budget 01/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 9:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tuesday's Nothing More concert moved from the State Theatre to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

    Blogs

    Nothing More was one of the highlights of April's 98 Rockfest, a thoroughly entertaining rock outfit with a larger-than-live stage presence.

    Nothing More performed at 98 Rockfest 2017 in Tampa.
  2. Buccaneers-Vikings Turning Point, Week 3: Overreaction vs. reality

    Bucs

    "None of us really know how this group of 53 guys is going to come together and how we're going to play this season."

    Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs torched a porous Bucs secondary Sunday with eight catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. [Getty Images]
  3. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO

    Corporate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Roger Berdusco is stepping down as CEO at Triad Retail Media to pursue other opportunities. [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  4. What to watch this week: Fall TV kicks off with 'Will & Grace,' 'Young Sheldon,' return of 'This Is Us'

    Blogs

    September temperatures are still creeping into the 90s, but fall officially started a few days ago. And with that designation comes the avalanche of new and returning TV shows. The Big Bang Theory fans get a double dose of Sheldon Cooper's nerdisms with the return of the titular series for an eleventh season and …

    Sean Hayes, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally in Will & Grace.
  5. Eight refueling jets from Arkansas, 250 people heading to new home at MacDill

    Macdill

    TAMPA — The number of KC-135 refueling jets at MacDill Air Force Base will grow from 18 to 24 with the return of a squadron that once called Tampa home.

    A KC-135 Stratotanker, a military aerial refueling jet, undergoes maintenance at MacDill Air Force Base. The planes, many flying since the late 1950s, are now being flown more than twice as much as scheduled because of ongoing foreign conflicts. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]