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Crist Wants To Maintain Drug Penalties

Herb Fellow

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TALLAHASSEE - Though he has admitted to smoking marijuana, Gov. Charlie Crist said he still favors Florida's tough drug laws and doesn't support legislative plans to review whether to lessen penalties for some crimes such as non-violent drug possession.

The state's prison population is expected to swell at year's end to a record 100,000, about 20 percent of whom are non-violent drug offenders convicted of crimes such as trafficking and simple possession.

And some legislators have wondered aloud and in private how the state can afford to pay for it now that Florida's economy is sagging and crime is rising It costs more than $19,000 a year to lock up an inmate, not counting the millions it will cost to build two prisons per year through 2013 to keep up with prison-population growth.

While no legislator has filed a bill to decriminalize drug laws outright, the Senate and House are considering measures that allow some inmates early and supervised work release, that establish a commission to review mandatory-minimum prison sentences -- a legacy of the drug war -- and that lessen penalties for driving with a suspended license.

But Crist said he wants to keep the laws the way they are. ''It's important to make sure that we do what the first order of business is, and that is to ensure domestic tranquility -- make sure that our people are safe -- and that means locking up bad people,'' he said.

What about nonviolent drug offenders?

''I feel that our laws are good in Florida. They were thoughtfully put in place. And I know there is a budget crunch. But I don't want to sacrifice public safety,'' Crist said.

Plantation Democratic Rep. Perry Thurston said the Legislature is not yet ready for decriminalization, but he noted his Republican colleagues are slowly starting to realize that too many people are being locked away and they're changing their minds about being tough on certain crimes.

Tampa Sen. Victor Crist -- a Republican who's not related to the governor and chairs the senate's criminal-justice appropriations committee -- said locking up drug users costs society and the state too much money, and it doesn't work.

''That's the old way; throw a drug addict in jail. But now we know treatment works, it's better and it's cheaper,'' Sen. Crist said. "If you're a violent criminal, you belong in a cell. If you're a drug addict, you belong in a rehab program.''

He said the Legislature is studying who's in prison and why -- something which can take time because prison records don't reflect the type of drug or specifics of a crime for which someone is convicted.

Asked if marijuana-possession should be decriminalized, Sen. Crist said: "The man or woman abusing drugs need to be in a program to overcome their addiction. And the time has come to look at the prison system and make sure this is appropriate.''

While the state senator said he hasn't used illegal drugs, the governor acknowledged he had. Asked if he ever used marijuana, Crist said "Yeah.''

''I've said many times, people make mistakes. And what I support about the law is the deterrent effect,'' he said. "Having said that, I'm also recommending about $28 million for substance-abuse [treatment], to help people who might have an addiction or problem with a substance. I think that's important to do as well. I think we have to have balance.''

Gov. Crist said he only used marijuana recreationally when he was younger and long before public life and that he never used cocaine. Did he inhale? ''I did,'' he said.

Source: Miami Herald
Copyright: 2008, Miami Herald
Contact: MARC CAPUTO, mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com
Website: Crist wants to maintain drug penalties - 03/15/2008 - MiamiHerald.com


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all i gotta say is grow up. to all yall wanna be me's out there and pray to god that we legalize this. "god" a full escape from depresion. i know doesnt make much since to work for now rather than our future but common how long is this precrastination on what wouldbe a blessing from god to shutupyall ignorant as "i am". cause you aint . not now.so when yourrealpeople remember these wordsfor the tru gosple comesfrom nowhere. well im fiendtodayand lonely and listoning tothe same stuffoverandoverfromsomethingthatshould be done. howmanypeoplegottadie for the right things when wecould belivingfor the right things.. a pot smoker, nota casual drinker ty peace see yall in heavon cause thatshow slow yall other peoplesare 777 . bla bla bla ,.. im happyjust dumbfounded on how im smarter than yall and im the "looser" i mean do i have to run amarathonjustto get yourattention. wakeuppeople we arereal now. not also after if you understoodanyofwhat imean then youlknow.imean busness. sostop fiddle fartin around. nowyoul pay


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the state is broke, public services to be curtailed, school staffs reduced, kids don't have enough books, non violent and consensual offenses prosicuted, and old Limp Wrist Crist, who they have to find a woman date to accompany him on social occasions wants to cut property taxes for the rich and impose another 1 cent sales tax so the masses can maintain their cheap paradise in the sun. Let Charlie and his supporters smoke some hanging chads!
Of course, he hasen't offered to give up his private, taxpayer paid for jet in the interest of the greater good. We can't have our leaders going around without their private jets!
These guys could screw up a three man funeral.


New Member
I just want to know who gets the first slap in the head! These people make everyone nuts.I'm not paranoid, after 45 years of keeping quiet, I'm SOOOOO tired of this crap and I could definitely beat the hell out of Fl for jailing me over thanksgiving
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