“To make our neighborhoods safer, our criminal justice system can’t solely focus on punishment."By Andrea Alvarez

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Legislators recently approved a bill giving Florida prisoners incentive to scrape time off of their original sentence. That same bill is estimated to save taxpayers millions of dollars in the first few years.

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96,000 people are incarcerated in Florida’s prisons every year, according to The Department of Corrections. The Department operates the third largest state prison system in the United States and it’s the largest agency administered by the state of Florida, costing taxpayers like you and I $2.7 billion each year to keep inmates there, but what if I told you that was all changing.

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“To make our neighborhoods safer, our criminal justice system can’t solely focus on punishment,” said State Attorney Andrew Warren, Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court.

Tuesday, the Florida senate committee on criminal justice approved Senate Bill 1032.

“The need for this is extremely high,” said Warren.

The bill would give inmates an opportunity to train educationally and vocationally, allowing them to earn additional time off of their sentence and essentially turning their lives around from inside prison walls.

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“The bill creates incentives for prisoners to succeed; To get a license or a degree or complete training programs and that helps with prisoners’ transition back to our community. Not only does it make our neighborhoods safer, it actually saves taxpayer dollars,” said Warren. Increasing rehabilitation credits is estimated to save the state $860 million over the next five years.

“Right now, our Department of Corrections does very little correcting. All it’s doing is warehousing prisoners and when we actually do the correction part, rehabilitating offenders who, when they are released, and most of them will be released back into our communities, they are less likely to reoffend,” said Warren.

While tens of thousands of inmates spend their time incarcerated, another 115,000 offenders spend their time on community supervision, according to the state’s Dept. Of Corrections.

State Attorney Andrew Warren says this non-partisan bill is a win-win in which both sides benefit.

“It has a problem, proposes a solution. One that we know will make our neighborhoods safer and save tax payer dollars,” said Warren.

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For a full list of organizations involved in the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform, go to https://www.betterjusticefl.com/.