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Florida crime victims crowd capitol fighting for protections and reduced recidivism

'We just want to keep it moving upward'
Posted at 6:33 PM, Feb 17, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- About 400 crime victims are spending the week pushing change at the state capitol.

Busloads of Florida’s survivors arrived Monday morning in Tallahassee, coming from as far away as Miami.

The victims were set to share personal stories with lawmakers as they consider criminal justice reforms this session.

“Domestic violence, sexual assault, gun violence," said Co-Organizer of the event, Dr. Ladonna Butler. "Their experiences are as diverse and varied as the population.”

Butler said the effort, dubbed “Survivors Speak,” was instrumental in getting reform last session. Then, lawmakers passed a bill bringing victims more ease and time to apply for state assistance programs.

Butler was confident the event could do it again in 2020, this time advocating for better employment and housing protections for crime victims. Also bringing support for inmates, pushing for improvements to the probation system and investing in rehab programs to reduce recidivism.

Elliott and Darla Saunders came from Tampa to lobby. They lost their son to violent crime in 2005. The two were hopeful sharing their experiences following the 18-year-old's homicide would help push lawmakers towards further change.

“We want to make those things go higher and greater," Elliott Saunders said. "Because, what we did last year, that was the first in about 20 years. We just want to keep it moving upward and onward.”

The group of survivors will announce the specific bills they’re supporting this year this coming Wednesday.