1. Restoring Voting Rights
Restoring voting rights. As governor, Charlie Crist will honor the intent of the voters who overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4. He will seek a new state law that would enable felons who have been released from prison to have their voting rights automatically restored while they continue to pay what they owe in court costs, fines and restitution. Crist also will immediately initiate a rigorous effort to reform and accelerate consideration of clemency requests, just as he did when he was governor when the state restored rights to more than 150,000 deserving Floridians.
2. Reducing Gun Violence
Reducing gun violence. In St. Petersburg and too many other cities across Florida and the nation, gun violence is on the rise. The homicide rate in Florida rose 10 percent in 2020 over the previous year. Gov. Crist will encourage and invest in local, grass-roots efforts in St. Pete and elsewhere aimed at uniting communities against gun violence. He will partner with local governments in gun safety campaigns to encourage legal gun owners to keep their guns locked up and properly stored. He will invest the state’s time and money in a comprehensive approach to reduce gun-related crime by improving neighborhoods through better social services, expanded affordable housing, better schools and more economic opportunities. As governor, Crist also will continue to seek stronger gun safety laws that include universal background checks for legal gun buyers as well as bans on large magazines and assault rifles.
3. Marijuana Reform
Legalizing marijuana. As governor, Charlie Crist will call for the full legalization of marijuana for adults, which already exists in nearly 20 states. Revenue from taxes on legal sales will be used to fund the police,
drug treatment programs and diversion programs. Funds will also be used to support our teachers. Adults will also be able to legally grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use. Crist will also call for dismantling the unfair vertical integration model for medical marijuana, which requires license holders to cultivate, process and sell their product. That limits competition, creates a handful of powerful cartels and discriminates against Black farmers with limited resources. Crist will create a new structure that will significantly increase accessibility to medical marijuana, decentralize operations, and enable minority entrepreneurs and others to enter the market and focus on what they do best, whether it is farming, processing or selling the product.
Expunging marijuana charges. Crist will seek legislation to expunge all existing charges and sentences for misdemeanors and third degree felonies for marijuana possession, which covers up to 30 grams of marijuana or 1 ounce. Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, for example, has essentially been diverting those cases. At least four states provided similar relief in 2021: New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Virginia. Nationally, Black residents are nearly four times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges than white residents — and seven of 10 voters nationally believe marijuana should be legalized.
4. Reforming Florida’s Justice System
Sentencing reform. Charlie Crist will establish a blue ribbon commission to review Florida’s mandatory minimum criminal laws. He will support legislation (SB 1032) filed in 2021 that would authorize prisoners to earn rehabilitation credit for completion of a high school equivalency diploma, vocational certificate, drug treatment program, mental health treatment program, life skills program, behavioral modification program, reentry program, or equivalent rehabilitative program. The bill’s sponsors included Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando.
■ Expanding conviction review units. Gov. Crist will provide financial assistance and encourage state attorneys in every circuit to form conviction review units like those in Hillsborough County and several urban Florida circuits. These offices work to prevent, identify and remedy wrongful convictions. Smaller jurisdictions could form regional review units.
■ Improving data collection. To root out racial disparities in the criminal justice system, we need better data. In 2018, the Legislature overwhelmingly voted to approve the Criminal Justice Data Transparency Project. Three years later, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has failed to deliver, and this state still does not have a publicly accessible website containing comprehensive criminal justice data. As governor, Crist will make it a top priority to ensure FDLE delivers so Floridians have a clear picture of the system and policymakers can better target reforms to ensure equal justice for all.
Juvenile Justice Reform
■ Sentencing reform for juveniles. Charlie Crist will seek legislation vetoed by Gov. DeSantis this year that had broad bipartisan support (SB 274)
and would have made tens of thousands of juveniles eligible to have their criminal record expunged if they took part in behavioral programs rather than serve prison time. The bill would expand current law, which only allows the expungement of misdemeanors for juveniles. The bill’s sponsors included Democratic Sens. Gary Farmer of Lighthouse Point and Annette Taddeo of Miami.
■ Expanding civil citation programs for juveniles. Gov. Crist will expand civil citation programs for juveniles. While state law requires these programs in every circuit, their scope and success vary. Crist will seek legislation to make these programs consistent statewide and expand them to include all misdemeanors except for a handful, such as those involving firearms. Escambia County adopted this expansion this summer. This will result in better outcomes for youths statewide and save taxpayers money.
■ Create a reentry program task force that would assess reentry programs across the state and compile a standard of best practices. Gov. Crist’s administration will provide incentives and grant opportunities for programs that follow the standards set forth by the task force.