The Florida Smart Justice Alliance praised Rep. Dennis Baxley and the Florida House of Representatives for today’s near-unanimous approval of Smart Justice legislation, which will help released inmates establish law-abiding lives and encourage greater use of faith-based prisons for inmates who wish to turn their lives around.
The House gave final approval to the inmate reentry bill (HB 7121) sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Baxley, whose leadership was instrumental in the favorable 116-1 House vote. The legislation for the first time ensures that inmates born in Florida are able to leave prison with an official state identification card or a certified copy of their birth certificate and social security card, improving their chances of finding a job and housing and getting medical prescriptions refilled – crucial steps in avoiding a return to criminal behavior. The bill also encourages the Department of Corrections to increase the number of faith-based prison institutions in the state.
“The best way to reduce crime and cut costs is to stop the revolving door of offense and imprisonment. This legislation starts Florida on a realistic path to break the cycle of recidivism,” said Barney Bishop III, president and CEO of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance. “The result will be fewer crime victims and tremendous cost saving for all Floridians. I want to express the appreciation of all of us in the Smart Justice movement for Rep. Baxley’s perseverance in passing this bill and our thanks to Speaker Will Weatherford, who has consistently shown interest in reducing future crime victims by helping inmates gain the opportunity to succeed. This has been a bipartisan effort and one that clearly is in the best interest of us all, and we look forward to the Senate’s favorable consideration. ”
Two Senate committees have already given unanimous support to a companion measure.