Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opinion Roundup; Smart Justice Saves Lives and Money

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opinion Roundup; Smart Justice Saves Lives and Money

Article excerpt

Conservatives are not only getting tough on crime, they are getting tough on the criminal justice budget.

For too long, officials looked the other way while too much money went to too many underperforming programs in prison.

Allison DeFoor, a former judge and a current Episcopal priest, describes the prison accountability movement in these terms: "Measure what works, do more of it, then find what doesn't work and do less of it."

With that brilliant motto in mind, DeFoor puts his background to good use. He has served in just about every important position in the criminal justice system in Florida: judge and sheriff among them.

An Episcopal priest, he also chairs the project on Accountable Justice at Florida State University.

DeFoor is leading the effort to keep juveniles out of the criminal justice system by using civil citations.

A Republican, DeFoor supports the conservative group Right on Crime. The principles of that group include achieving the best possible results at the lowest possible cost.

When corrections gets too tough and too expensive, it actually helps harden people for nonviolent, low-risk crimes.

"The corrections system should emphasize public safety, personal responsibility, work, restitution, community service and treatment," according Right on Crime principles.

DeFoor does that through his involvement in Wakulla Correctional Institute, a prison that uses faith and character-building to produce impressive results.

He likes to quote a 2012 poll of registered Florida Republicans that showed:

- More than 80 percent support changes for nonviolent offenders that include supervised work release, mandatory drug testing and mental health treatment.

- More than 80 percent agree that offenders under the age of 18 should be handled by the juvenile justice system.

- And more than 80 percent support evidence-driven, community-based alternatives to juvenile prisons.

In fact, Florida spends $55,407 a year on every juvenile it incarcerates, according to a new report from the Justice Policy Institute. The way America deals with prison has precious little to do with rehabilitation.

Too often, prison is a first choice, not a last choice. And once a juvenile is behind bars, the path is set for a lifetime of crime.

Remember these are die-hard Florida Republicans. It is not that these alternatives are soft or hard on crime, they are right on crime.

REFORMING OBAMACARE

If the U.S. Supreme Court tosses out federal subsidies for Obamacare next year, the nation needs to be ready to reform the program.

A number of reforms are already in the works with bipartisan support, such as finding other options than the medical devices tax.

The Wall Street Journal took the common-sense approach that the way to reduce the need for subsidies is to make insurance cheaper. …

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