Dear Members and Advocates,
Today we honor our nation’s military Veterans. To our members who have served in the US Armed Forces, we thank you for your service!
The topic of this week’s update is mistakes. We’re not referring to the crimes committed by those on the registry, but mistakes made on the other end of the criminal justice fence. Mistakes made by lawmakers in passing bad laws. Some bad laws get intentionally promoted for political benefit. Some bad laws are based on incorrect information. And some bad laws get passed by well-meaning legislators who believe they are doing the right thing at the time, but the results don’t match the expectations.
An article in this month’s Harvard Law Review, entitled; “Categorical Mistakes: The Flawed Framework of the Armed Career Criminal Act and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing” highlights some mistakes made by congress and the tragic consequences that result from those mistakes. In the article, the author talks about the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (CCCA). At the time, the members of Congress who voted for these changes to criminal laws believed they would minimize disparities in sentencing, make criminal sentences more transparent, and improve public safety.
After living with the laws for decades, we learned the laws didn’t meet their objectives. To the contrary, by lumping everyone into a mandatory minimum sentence, thousands of people received much harsher sentences than warranted, thereby creating disparity. Because judge’s hands were tied, plea negotiations started to be handled outside the courtroom with prosecutors, thereby making things less transparent. And most importantly longer sentences and harsh collateral consequences undermined public safety and did nothing to reduce crime. Clearly the CCCA didn’t work.
The hard part about making a mistake is admitting you were wrong. Politicians especially want to avoid the risks that come with admitting they were wrong because they worry it makes them look incompetent or unworthy of their position. When faced with the uncomfortable truth that they got it wrong, some will simply dig in their heels or double down with more misinformation in order to make themselves look right (think Ron Book, for example). That helps no one, least of all the people these laws are intended to protect.
This past weekend we published a post called The Fight to Save Rodney Reed. Whether innocent or guilty, right or wrong, where there is any doubt and people’s lives are at stake, a civilized society needs to stop and reexamine its laws to make sure we are not making a mistake. Call upon your legislators to revisit the registry and start doing the right thing!
The Florida Action Committee
Amazon Smile – select (FAC Outreach Partner “Justice Transitions in Sanford FL” as your charity. Make purchases using https://smile.amazon.com in order to be certain that Justice Transitions (and FAC members) benefit from your purchases.
Holiday Fundraiser “With Unity Comes Change” Say it…Wear It! Click here to order your T-Shirts and Hoodies to support Justice Transitions, the organization that helps with Outreach needs of our FAC members year-round. This sell ENDS DECEMBER 3rd.
Thu Nov 14 – FAC New Member Orientation Call – 8pm ET Dial 319-527-3487. Learn more about FAC and volunteer opportunities.
Sat Nov 30 – Workshop – Apopka (Orange County) Noon-4pm- need volunteers to help with projects.
Sat Dec 7 -Holiday Party – Apopka (Orange County) 2pm – 7pm – Food and Entertainment (no children)
SUNDAY Dec 8 – Family Support Session in Central Broward County -11:00am-1:00pm -Seating is limited. RSVP early.
For more information about these events, or to RSVP email [email protected] or call 904-452-8322. No children please.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THIS WEEK
Joe Morrissey was jailed and lost his license to practice law after being convicted of having sex with his 17-year-old secretary. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor in the ensuing court case and served for only three months in a “work-release term.” He was also forced to…
FAC has sent a letter to the Florida Department of Education on behalf of parents who are being denied access to their children’s school plays, parent-teacher conferences and graduations. Depriving a child of their parent’s involvement in their upbringing unfairly…
Dion Harrell spent two decades on New Jersey’s sex offender registry. He had trouble finding a job. He couldn’t be alone with his kids. For a time, he was homeless. But when a DNA test finally proved his innocence, the state had nothing to offer him for those years….
Yesterday, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether 2018’s Ballot initiative, Amendment 4 (relating to restoration of voting rights to some convicted felons), could tie financial obligations to voting rights. They seemed inclined to say the state…