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September 2012 Archives

How Much Compensation for Wrongful Conviction

A Florida statute provides financial compensation for wrongfully convicted defendants who are later exonerated. However, due to technical provisions, only three individuals have seen any monetary recompense in the four years since the billhands exchanging money became law. If defendants have prior felony convictions or commit new crimes while in custody, they are excluded from the monetary compensation under the provisions of the law. The law provides $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment for a maximum payout of $2 million. The payout for all three individuals has totaled just over $3 million thus far. The most recent payment, approved in July 2012, was for over $1.2 million to a defendant who spent 26 years in custody for several rapes he allegedly committed. He was exonerated in 2005 because of DNA testing.

Courts Shift Handling of Minor Crimes Across USA

The Community Justice Center in San Francisco, one of about 40 across the nation, tracks minor offenses in some of the toughest areas of city. Judges use diversions, such as substance abuse programs and social services, instead of penalties, such as fines or time in custody. The purpose is so that people can get their lives back on track with rehabilitation. The judge rewards defendants with candy and even a $5 gift card to a grocery store if they are consistent with their designated court appearances and voluntarily attend group therapy sessions. The courts want to look at the reasons for defendant behavior instead of just slapping defendants with harsh punitive sanctions. Defendants who come to court high or drunk will be arrested for a few days and placed in custody to keep them safe.

Drug Bust Leads to Arrest of 15 in Datyona Beach

An undercover drug investigation into the sales of marijuana and cocaine captured 15 people in Daytona Beach during the September 15th and 16th. One subject was in possession of more than $400 in cash along with a total of 17 grams of illegal drugs, cocaine and marijuana. The man would not exit his vehicle, so officers broke a window to arrest him. A second suspect was in possession of 30 baggies of marijuana at the time of his arrest. A woman with an infant was arrested for child abuse after she watched a drug transaction while she held the child. Her baby was given to the suspect's mother. 

Human Trafficking - Prominent In South Florida

Florida is developing a new industry, and it is not what you expect. Human trafficking, or slavery if you care to use a less politically correct term, is happening throughout the southern counties of Florida. Run mostly by organized crime syndicates, people from around the world are being encouraged to "Come to America for a good paying job," only to find out when they arrive that the advertisement was a lie. In many cases, the jobs that were promised were never available, and the people once here, have no other option but to accept the jobs they are given. Many of these people arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their back, have not eaten in days, and have nowhere to turn for help.

How Free Speech Applies to Judges

The Florida Supreme Court has rejected suggested court restrictions that would place some term limits on justices and restrict some speech. The original intention of the limits was to unify the court system and to improve communication from justices to the public. However, the higher court justices enacted the changes without a hearing. Lower court justices, including appellate court and circuit judges, spoke out against the changes. While three of the Supreme Court justices initially argued against the decision, others supported the changes. One justice related past precedents that discouraged justices from spending their own funds without more oversight. Recently, two judges discussed the possible construction of a court house to the tune of almost $50 million. Critics have dubbed the building a "Taj Mahal" because of the luxury of the building. Critics raised an outcry against the lobbying involved in the building. The appellate court's chief justice eventually stepped down from his duties in the aftermath of the ethics controversy. 

Is Stand Your Ground Law Facing Possible Changes?

george zimmerman smiling in courtA Florida task force is reviewing the data surrounding the "Stand Your Ground" law. However, an educator who reported on the study related that a variety of factors affect the conclusions regarding the law. The task force cannot make a final decision on the law's effectiveness due to insufficient information. Some of the data reviewed include effects on crime and tourism. The study also considered gun ownership trends. The Florida governor implemented the study after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The highly charged political incident propelled the state's heated discussions over gun laws into national attention. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader. Zimmerman insisted he was defending himself but was eventually charged with second-degree murder. Residents across the nation clamored for the charges, which also resulted in the assignment of a special prosecutor to the case. 

Gang Responsible For Rash of Car Burglaries

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Central Florida is being terrorized by a gang of car burglaries over the past fewcar with a smashed in windowmonths. There have been quite a few "smash and grab" events in which items are stolen from cars or cars are stolen all together. The problem is this is happening in areas where it is normally not expected, which include state parks, community areas, churches, play grounds, public gyms, and even major shopping areas have all fallen victim. 

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