TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The Florida Senate is poised to pass a bill that would loosen sentencing laws for certain drug-trafficking offenses, after approving revisions on Wednesday that were drafted with the help of Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office.
Senate bill sponsor Rob Bradley said that, after speaking with senators and Moody’s staff, he agreed to remove a provision in the proposal that would have required all law enforcement officers to record interrogations they conduct with defendants who are in custody.
“While I think the custodial interrogation language is good, the fact of the matter is that a vast majority of districts do it anyway and I don’t think this is really going to change how business is conducted whether the language passes or not,” Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who is a former prosecutor, said during Wednesday’s floor session.
At Bradley’s request, the Senate approved four amendments to his bill (SB 346). The changes included a tweak that would give the state an opportunity to make sentencing recommendations in certain drug-trafficking cases before judges decide to depart from mandatory-minimum guidelines.
Another change would reduce the amount of drugs that would allow defendants to get shorter sentences.
The original version of the proposal would have set a maximum incarceration time of 12 months for people who buy or possess less than two grams of a controlled substance, other than fentanyl.
Wednesday’s revision lowered the purchasing and possession quantities to one gram or less of a controlled substance, a move that will “closely mirror federal personal-use amounts,” Bradley said. Senate President Bill Galvano told reporters on Wednesday he believes Bradley’s sentencing changes are important.
“I trust that what he’s doing with that bill is going to give it the best opportunity to pass … and to continue to help us make improvements in the criminal justice system,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, said. Bradley, the Senate budget chief, said he has not yet started to negotiate the issue with the House, which does not have a companion bill.
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