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Public Forum Will Discuss Florida Criminal Justice Reform

The Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ), an organization housed within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (COSSPP), is bringing together a number of groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the James Madison Institute for a free public forum to discuss the future of criminal justice reform in Florida.

The forum, “Florida Criminal Justice Reform: 2017 and Beyond,” also features representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Reason Foundation, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, COSSPP’s Askew School of Public Administration and Policy, and others for sessions on such topics as the outlook for reform measures and new forms of accountability and measurability. Vikrant Reddy, senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, will deliver the keynote address.

The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place:

Friday, March 3, 2017
8:30 a.m. – Noon
Augustus Turnbull Florida State Conference Center, Room 103
555 W. Pensacola St., Tallahassee

With the U.S. being the world’s largest jailer, there is a growing consensus that housing more prisoners than any other free nation in the world (both in terms of actual number and in incarceration rate) comes at a great cost — both financial and human. According to a survey conducted last fall by the Charles Koch Institute and the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute, an overwhelming majority of Floridians support reforms to the state’s criminal justice system.

Florida has an incarceration rate 24 percent higher than the U.S. average, the result of which is that, on any given day, more than 150,000 people are locked inside the state’s jails and prisons. Moreover, Florida spends nearly $3 billion annually on its Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice, the bulk of that on incarceration.

“Our state policy makers are considering many proposals to reduce crime, cut costs and ensure that we have the right forms of accountability in place to know that we continue to head in the direction of a safer Florida,” said PAJ Chairman Richard Doran, former Florida attorney general. “With public support for criminal justice reform so strong, it’s an excellent opportunity to gather and discuss the potential for a more modern and rational Florida criminal justice system.”

Many proposals for reform are expected to surface during the 2017 legislative session, and PAJ’s goal is to educate the public about the opportunities to turn Florida from a trajectory of expensive and outmoded correctional and community mental and behavioral health practices to stopping victimization, turning lives around, rebuilding families, saving taxpayer dollars and, ultimately, to enhancing safety and vitality in communities across our country.

“Florida, as one of the largest and most visible states in the country, can serve as an example for dozens of states that are trying to build better criminal justice systems that keep Americans safe, hold offenders accountable, and advance human dignity,” said Reddy. “The Project on Accountable Justice and other groups work hard to educate the public and policy-makers about how to develop these criminal justice systems in a manner that is fiscally responsible, here in Florida and beyond.”

Students and the general public are encouraged to attend. Those interested should RSVP to PAJ Director Deborrah Brodsky at dbrodsky@fsu.edu. Complimentary coffee and continental breakfast will be served. For more information, please visit this link.

About the Project on Accountable Justice
The Project on Accountable Justice is a partnership between Florida State University, Baylor University’s Program on Prosocial Behavior, the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College, and the Florida Public Safety Institute at Tallahassee Community College. The project facilitates research, public education, and dialogue with a mission to advance public safety through research and evidence.