Criminal justice reform

Courtesy of Florida International University

Students and faculty stood up and clapped as keynote speaker Yusef Salaam, one of the members of the exonerated “Central Park Five,” walked on stage at the Graham Center Ballrooms at Florida International University. 

“Right now we are on the cusp of everything that Dr. King talked about in the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech,” said Salaam, the keynote speaker at the 29th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Commemorative Breakfast.

His soaring rhetoric has drawn comparisons to former President Barack Obama. He prides himself as the only Democratic presidential hopeful to live in an inner-city neighborhood. Reforming a criminal justice system plagued by racial disparities is central to his campaign.

Yet New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of two top-tier African American candidates in a crowded Democratic field, continues to struggle making inroads with black voters — something he addressed on Saturday in a wide-ranging interview with two voters that was moderated by NPR's Ari Shapiro.

Florida’s prison system, the third largest in the nation, has long faced issues with contraband drugs, yet the state agency that grapples with the problems does not track the number of inmates treated for overdoses.

Nirmal Mulaikal/WLRN

Activist Alice Marie Johnson called for more females voices in national debates about criminal justice reform  during a speaking event Tuesday night at Florida International University.

“Women need to be included in discussions about prison reform,” Johnson said. “For so long, women have been the forgotten ones in prison.”

 

The American Civil Liberties Union in Jacksonville Thursday led a discussion on its priorities heading into the next Florida legislative session, which are:  criminal justice, immigrant rights and voting rights. 

Cat Gloria/ WUFT News

Florida lawmakers abandoned a proposal that would have allowed thousands of nonviolent offenders in the state to be released from behind bars sooner in their prison terms, a plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis and law enforcement groups had criticized.

A provision in the Senate’s big criminal justice reform bill could make a big impact early on, if signed into law. That impact would come in the form of fewer people incarcerated, and significant savings for the state.