Governor signs sweeping court data collection

Herald-Tribune by John Kenndy

March 30, 2018

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday legislation requiring sweeping, new courthouse data collection, which supporters say will home in on rampant racial disparities in sentencing exposed by reporting in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The legislation (CS/SB 1392) cleared the Legislature in the closing minutes of the 2018 session. Scott signed the measure without comment, but Senate President Joe Negron earlier said the legislation was a critical step toward equalizing justice in Florida.

“It’s important at all times to be evaluating our criminal justice system to make sure that there aren’t biases and prejudices and other things that we don’t want to happen,” Negron said. “And the best way to determine that is to get actual information and data and research to make sure that we’re treating everyone fairly regardless of their racial background, their education, income.”

The new law will create a uniform databank containing information on arrest and bail proceedings and criminal sentencing, and will be searchable by the public through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website.

It follows two years of reporting by the Herald-Tribune on racial bias in criminal sentencing that resulted in two series: “Bias on the Bench,” published in December 2016, and “One War. Two Races,” published last year. [READ MORE]

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