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Thirty months into his first term, Warren says Hillsborough has become a model for other Florida counties, who have been approaching him for advice on modernizing their own criminal justice systems.
“We’re starting to see people have realized that what we are doing is completely changing the landscape of criminal justice,” Warren said.
Among his accomplishments, for the first time, Hillsborough County is enforcing laws which prohibit those with domestic abuse cases before them from carrying guns.
For Florida’s kids, Warren has overseen a 58 percent reduction in the number of cases where children are tried as adults, bringing the state in line with the national average.
He’s created juvenile and adult civil citation programs which give those charged with minor demeanors access to counseling in areas like anger management and addiction, conditional upon not re-offending. These strategies are designed to keep people out of jail – which he contends costs taxpayers as much as ten times the cost of counseling.
“Prison should be the last alternative to maintain public safety,” Warren said, adding that without a criminal record, these minor offenders have a much better chance of finding employment or going back to school.
Warren says the new system has already kept 1200 adults and 800 youths out of prison in the last year.
Other changes brought about under Warren’s leadership include new courts specifically tasked with dealing with mental health issues, and allowing judges to waive excessive fines and fees associated with so-called ‘poverty crimes’, in which an impoverished individual whose only crime is his or her inability to pay a traffic ticket may quickly find himself in jail and unable to work.
On Amendment Four, the ballot initiative that passed last year to allow returning citizens to register to vote, Warren expressed concern about recent legislation which adds conditions to the amendment by forcing individuals to pay all fines and fees associated with their sentence before being allowed to register. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if we saw state attorneys making motions to convert fees and fines into a few hours of community service, making regaining their voting rights achievable for those unable to pay.
“Fair is fair. When you’ve served your time, you should get your rights back,” he said.
Warren announced earlier this month that his campaign and an affiliated political committee had raised $200,000 in his re-election bid, making him the highest-raising candidate for State Attorney in all of Florida to date.