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| Crime |

Rick Scott Vetoes Bill to Give Non-Violent Drug Addicts Treatment Instead of Jail

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After all time wasted in Tally by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff this session -- from the wrongheaded, like bills to bring casinos to Miami and move Dade's reaches further into the Everglades, to the absurd, like her plan making it legal to dye animals crazy colors -- it's somehow poetic justice that her one truly common-sense proposal has now been vetoed by Rick Scott. With almost no opposition, Bogdanoff had marshaled through a bill that would move non-violent drug offenders out of jail and into treatment after serving half their sentences. Scott axed it, complaining it was soft on crime.

"Justice to victims of crime is not served when a criminal is permitted to be released early from a sentence," Scott wrote in his veto.

But justice is clearly served by keeping drug addicts behind bars instead of in intense therapy, so when they get out they'll almost certainly reoffend, right Gov.?

For once, Bogdanoff hits the nail on the head.

"He said it was a 'public safety' issue. No it's not," she tells the Miami Herald. "These are non-violent drug offenders."

Bogdanoff had been pushing for the reform for six years. Her bill this year sailed through both chambers -- which, as the Herald notes, are packed with Republicans usually desperate not to look "soft on crime."

The Fort Lauderdale Republican sold them on the plan as a cost-saving measure, though. The state saves money by turning drug addicts into productive citizens -- not to mention by moving non-violent inmates out of custody and into treatment.

Her plan passed the House 112-4 and the Senate 80-0.

Scott, though, wasn't on board. In his veto, he writes that he was troubled that the law would create an exception to Florida's 85-percent rule, which mandates that inmates serve at least that proportion of their sentences before they can be released.

Critics say the rule is the prime reason Florida's prisons are so overstuffed, but Scott says Bogdanoff's plan would "creating an unwarranted exception to the rule."

But hey, it's not like Scott has some financial interest in keeping Florida's prisons stuffed full of non-violent offenders. (Ahem.)

It's not all doom and gloom for Bogdanoff, though. Yesterday, Scott signed her animal dyeing bill into law.

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