It seems that the governor of this state [Florida] is trying to pass a 25¢ tax on every pack of cigarettes to raise money for the construction 21,000 additional prison beds to keep the violent offenders behind bars longer and, if possible, not to let them out ever again.
The governor has been hemming and hawing about the fact that there will be a gridlock and the prison system will run out of prisoners to release early due to the mandatory and habitual statutes they have been sentenced under, yet it was the governor and the legislature that passed both of these statutes when they were getting tough on crime in this state.
The governor has called the legislature back into special session to fix this so called gridlock problem by creating a bill or bills to fund the construction of the prison beds the governor wants. Yet the governor never called for any prison beds in the last couple of years after passing the habitual and minimum mandatory statutes. The word so far is that the legislature is about to compromise and allow the funding of 10,000 prison beds due to the finding of almost 270 million dollars in the state coffers that the governor's staff knew about yet forgot to tell the governor until the end of the regular session where the legislature passed a bill funding the construction of 7,000 beds which the governor promptly vetoed.
No matter how many prison beds the legislature funds for construction, the problem of gridlock will still exist in the short run because you cannot build prison beds and get them on line in a matter of months. Well, yes you can if you give the job to a firm noted for its shoddy construction practices, then the prisons can be put up and fall down within a few years after they are built.
M.C., Clearwater, FL
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