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Florida First Step Act aims to reduce criminal sentences

Posted: 10:55 PM, Feb 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-19 23:33:50-05
4 officers, 15 inmates injured in prison fights

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Sweeping changes could be coming to Florida's criminal justice system.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, has filed legislation known as the Florida First Step Act.

If passed, the bill would give judges greater discretion over sentencing for non-violent drug offenders and move away from mandatory minimums.

“They’re ending up in prison for the same amount of time as somebody that’s been in and out of jail and prison for selling drugs their entire life and it’s, it’s spirit-breaking," said Greg Foster.

Foster lived his life in between prison stints for five years. The ex-offender is now helping rebuild his community by constructing tiny homes for homeless military veterans through Second Chance Tiny Homes .

Thanks to the opportunities given to him, Foster is now an advocate for reforming Florida's criminal justice system. He supports the Florida First Step Act.

“It’s going to show that we do care, that there is help out there for you, that you’re not just going to be thrown away like trash," said Foster.

The bill also seeks to house eligible inmates within 150 miles of their primary residence.

"If my family was within 150 miles I would have had a visit once a month, if not more," said Foster. "I would have been able to hug my mom, instead of seeing tears on a letter."

To read the bill in its entirety, click here .