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Florida’s evolving approach to drug sentences

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2019 | Drug Charges

Residents in Florida and around the country have experienced a variety of approaches to dealing with crimes involving drugs over the past few decades. Some politicians, legislators, advocacy groups and more have pushed for a harsher approach to people convicted of drug crimes. This often involved strict jail or prison sentences that may not always truly reflect the severity of an actual offense.

Now, however, there may be a significant change in the way Florida address some drug charges and their respective penalties. As reported by, a new piece of legislation called the Florida First Step Act has been introduced in the state legislature. If passed, the law would completely eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of drug trafficking offenses.

Proponents of the Florida First Step Act say that mandatory minimum sentences not only failed to curb criminal activity on the streets but it also took away some of the responsibilities that naturally belonged with judges. This law would allow a judge to assign a sentence specific to a case instead of based on some generic rule. In a way, it is an attempt to make punishments more appropriately fit their respective crimes.

People also assert that the change would result in significant taxpayer savings as well. Forty years ago, Florida was one of the first states in the country to enact mandatory minimum sentences. Apart from a six-year stint in the 1990s, these have been in effect ever since. The progress of the Florida First Step Act is something that residents in the state will want to watch carefully.