Sentencing Measure Moves Through Senate Committee

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A Senate panel has approved a proposal that would give judges flexibility on Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for prescription drug offenders.

The bill (SB 420) aimed at keeping people addicted to prescription drugs from facing the same criminal penalties as drug traffickers was approved Monday in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Sen. Charlie Dean cast the lone dissenting vote.

Dean, R-Inverness, is a former sheriff.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association and State Attorneys of Florida are among organizations opposed to changing the law.

They argue that loosening the mandatory minimum sentences could interrupt the progress they’ve made curtailing the distribution of prescription drugs in recent years.

Proponents that include the Florida Catholic Conference and Families Against Mandatory Minimums say that people in need of drug treatment shouldn’t be indiscriminately imprisoned.