Saying Florida’s criminal justice system is broken, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King laid out a plan Tuesday afternoon that he says provides fresh ideas to address one of the state’s pressing issues.
His plan calls for the legalization of marijuana, the end of the death penalty and the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons.
King announced his criminal justice reform plan during a roundtable discussion in St. Petersburg with state Rep. Sean Shaw, a Democrat running for attorney general, and Tampa Bay community leaders.
“Florida needs fresh ideas and new leadership to reform its broken criminal justice system,” King said. “‘Turning the tide’ means reforming a system that needlessly criminalizes tens of thousands of nonviolent men and women in Florida. I reject the conventional politics of just seeking incremental change –– we’ve got to fight for bold, progressive ideas to make our justice system fair while keeping Floridians safe.”
King’s criminal justice reform plan focuses on six areas.
King says Florida’s crime and incarceration rates are in the top 10 nationally. He’s calling for the reduction of incarceration numbers in Florida by 25 percent over the next five years and 50 percent in the next decade. He says to reduce the number of prisoners, the state needs to enact sentencing reform for non-violent offenders. He’s calling for the elimination of strict minimum mandatory sentences for nonviolent crimes, instituting gain-time reform and pursuing civil citation programs. ,
He says it’s time Florida legalize marijuana and impose taxes on its sale. He says the criminalization of marijuana has placed a large financial burden on the prison system in terms of incarcerating non-violent offenders.
King says as governor he would call for the repeal of the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without parole. King says he would refuse to sign death warrants if elected governor.
He also supports the end of private prisons in Florida and calls for investing money saved from his reform measures in educational programs designed to help reduce the flow of offenders into the state’s prisons.
He says he supports Amendment 4 on the November ballot which would provide for the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons.