One of Governor Crist’s top priorities for cracking down on crime is on the fast track at the Capitol this year. The Anti-Murder Act would lock up violent felons who violate probation and let a judge decide whether they get back out.
The goal is to protect potential future victims, but the bill is also raising some red flags.
The kidnap and murder just over three years ago of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia shocked the nation. The crime became the driving force behind then-Attorney General Charlie Crist’s push to lock up violent parole violators before they can commit new crimes.
Now Governor Crist is determined to see the Anti-Murder Act become law this year. “We’ve got to do something responsible to reduce the incidents of murder, especially of our children.”
The anti-murder bill stalled in the last two legislative sessions. Now the tide seems to be turning. It’s already cleared its second senate committee and support is growing.
But even the anti-murder bill’s supporters have some concerns. It will be expensive to implement and there is some question it may go too far.
Senator Arthenia Joyner worries an ex-con who loses his job through no fault of his own could land back behind bars for something that wasn’t his fault. “You know, we do have a responsibility to not just throw everybody out in the net if they don’t deserve to be in it.”
And the cost concern remains an obstacle. But Senate sponsor Paula Dockery says you can’t put a price on protecting kids. “Public safety should be the primary responsibility of government and if that cost is 28 million or 30 million dollars or 100 million dollars in a state like Florida with a 70-something billion dollar budget, that’s a cost that we need to pay.”
And this year lawmakers appear ready to write that check, in Carlie’s memory.
Analysts estimate the Anti-Murder Act will cost about 23-million dollars in its first year, but as much as 270-million dollars over the next five years. The bill’s next stop is another Senate committee hearing Thursday.