Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007


FL Assoc of Criminal Defense Lawyers: Governor’s Veto Of Record Expungement Legislation – Wrong

Photo: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

Governor Ron DeSantis’s Wednesday vetoes of two criminal justice bills, both of which passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, demonstrate once again that politics currently trump good policy in the Governor’s office.

One of the vetoed bills (HB 605) would have allowed eligible adults to expunge a criminal record despite having used one prior juvenile expungement. The legislation was narrowly written and applied only in cases where an individual was not charged, had charges dropped or was acquitted of the charges. Legislators described the effort as a workforce issue that would have assisted individuals who had never been convicted of a crime to obtain employment.

The barriers to employment for those caught up in the justice system and the demonization of people arrested, even if the charges are unfounded, hurt our economy and should be an affront to Floridians. Gov. DeSantis could have worked to right this systematic failure, but he chose instead to pander to the ‘tough on crime’ crowd.

It's stunning that bills with unanimous and near-unanimous legislative support are not good enough for the current Governor.

The second bill vetoed by Governor DeSantis (SB 1478) passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. Through alternative sanctions, it sought to reduce jail populations for technical violations of probation deemed "low risk.”

Vetoing SB 1478 means more people will be in jail longer. It costs thousands of dollars to house these folks in jail unnecessarily. These are people who could be productive members of society.

Gov. DeSantis offered no rationale for these vetoes, which were announced by form letter after regular business hours.

The Governor’s veto decisions undermine the clear consensus crafted, through hard work, by Florida’s elected representatives.

Luke Newman is the president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is one of fewer than 70 Florida attorneys board certified by the Florida Bar in criminal appeals.

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