Florida legislature passes criminal justice reform bill

Florida legislature passes criminal justice reform bill
© Getty Images

Florida's state House of Representatives on Friday passed a 296-page criminal justice reform bill on Friday, the last full day of the legislative session.

The bill's success in the House follows passage in the state's Senate a day earlier, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and the bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida governor orders criminal investigation into handling of Jeffrey Epstein case Groups ask court to block ex-felon voting law in Florida GOP Florida governor enlists new officer to prepare state for rising sea level MORE (R). Passage of the bill was unanimous in the House Friday, the last full day of the legislative session.


The bill, dubbed the "Florida First Step Act" after the similarly named national criminal justice bill that President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE signed into law earlier this year, makes it easier for felons to get professional licenses, permits state attorneys to determine whether juvenile cases should be taken up in adult courts and lessens or gets rid of criminal penalties tied to driver’s license suspensions. The bill also raises the "threshold" theft amount at which felony charges can be imposed to $750 from $300, according to the Times. 

The bill's House sponsor told the Tampa Bay Times that the bill's goal is to make the state's criminal justice system fairer. 

“Our goal … is to make sure we have the fairest, most just criminal justice system in the country and today we take a large step in that direction,” said State Rep. Paul Renner (R). 

The Times reports that some proposed measures, including allowing for judicial discretion in sentencing for some drug crimes that have mandatory minimum sentences, did not make it into the bill's final version, disappointing some reform advocates. 

The state has almost 100,000 people currently incarcerated, according to the paper.