Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jun 2010
Source: Ledger, The (Lakeland, FL)
Copyright: 2010 The Ledger
Author: Timothy McLean


In response to "Florida Prison Population: Growing by  Leaps and 
Bounds" and its great financial need  [editorial, May 17], Florida's 
prison population is  definitely in a financial crisis and, as stated 
before,  is growing by leaps and bounds.

So much money is being spent unnecessarily, to sentence  people 
according to our current public policy, that  could be used for so 
many things that are drastically  in need of immediate attention.

Most of us certainly know that our state system is in  great need of 
help, such as our children and their  teachers' salaries. Also, 
Florida, like other states  are now doing, could fund medical studies 
for our  seriously ill with cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple 
sclerosis, glaucoma, etc., and the list grows on.

The mandatory-minimum sentences do need to change. The  old policies 
in place are based on past societal issues  and past public opinion. 
Medical marijuana is a popular  issue. A November 2005 nationwide 
Gallup poll showed 78  percent of Americans "support making marijuana 
legally  available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce  pain 
and suffering," and our state medical-marijuana  initiatives have 
been repeatedly endorsed by voters.

Illegal substances, cocaine and morphine, can be  legally prescribed 
by doctors, yet a current  over-the-counter drug, Tylenol, causes 
about 500 deaths  per year. And to top it off, many medical 
organizations, including the American Public Health  Association, the 
American Nurses Association, and the  Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 
support legal medical  marijuana for the seriously ill.

So it does "confound common sense." If simple laws were  changed, 
such as not sentencing many nonviolent crimes  currently on the 
books, so much money could be used to  rid our state of the 
incredibly unforgivable debt that  we are currently in.

And, of course, let us not forget our children and  their providers.


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