The Aug. 19 article Leniency for drug sentences hard sell in Florida focuses on the cost of incarcerating low-level drug offenders as the impetus for eliminating mandatory-minimum sentences and giving judges greater sentencing discretion. Although reducing costs to taxpayers is an admirable objective, I believe that maximizing public safety through effective crime-control strategies is our ultimate goal.
Before implementing a significant shift in federal sentencing guidelines, it would be beneficial to determine the recidivism rate for those offenders who received drug treatment and re-entry services, for a selected time period, compared to a representative sample of those that did not. Doing so would provide data concerning the efficacy of these programs and services, whether minimum-mandatory sentencing has value as a deterrent beyond incapacitation, and whether continuation of the current sentencing model is cost-effective.
Joyce Voschin, Davie