Showing posts with label Tallahassee FL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tallahassee FL. Show all posts

Friday, December 7, 2018

Florida veterans showing up for others

Florida Veterans in the News


David Smith riding new wave of veteran-advocates in the Florida Legislature


Orlando Rising
Scott Powers
12/05/2018

Republican state Rep. David Smith will be heading to Tallahassee with a broad platform of ambitions covering education, the economy and the environment, but the retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel gets particularly excited about prospects he sees to improve the lot for Florida’s military veterans.

Smith was elected Nov. 6 to succeed Jason Brodeur in representing House District 28 in east Seminole County. Riding in with him in this class are state Reps. Anthony Sabatini of Howie-in-the-Hills, Elizabeth Fetterhoff of Deland, Tommy Gregory of Sarasota, and Spencer Roach of North Fort Myers, all military veterans, joining returning lawmakers such as Paul Renner of Palm Coast.

They have restarted a veterans’ caucus in the Florida House, Smith said.

“I think there is going to be new excitement to address issues for veterans,” Smith said. “The one thing I’m committed to is systemic solutions. I don’t want band-aid solutions or give-away programs. They don’t work and they’re insulting to veterans.”

Specifically, Smith is looking at creating a state contracting set-aside preference for veteran-owned businesses, much as currently exists for women- and minority-owned businesses. There are plenty of models out there, including a federal program, state programs in Texas, California, and North Carolina, and a patchwork of local programs.

Smith said that the University of Central Florida’s contracts for construction of its downtown campus features a 10 percent set-aside for veterans’ businesses. Smith’s willing to start much smaller at the state, perhaps 1 percent, and work toward 3 percent.

He has filed no bills yet, saying he’s taking his time. Like other state representatives, he’s also waiting for his committee assignments.

“That’s one of the things I campaigned on,” Smith. “One of the differences I have even with Gov. [Rick] Scott is I think Florida is not as veteran-friendly as it could be as relates to veterans’ businesses. I want to be an advocate for those veterans in the Legislature.”
read more here


Meet the Palmetto resident who was inducted into Florida Veterans Hall of Fame


Bradenton Herald
BY JAMES A. JONES JR.
December 7, 2018

MANATEE
Carl Hunsinger of Palmetto, chairman of the Manatee County Veterans Council, was among 20 vets inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame this week in Tallahassee.
Carl Hunsinger has been inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. He is shown above with Lee Washington, Manatee County veterans service officer, Gov. Rick Scott, and the Florida Cabinet. Hunsinger is retired from 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, and is a tireless advocate for the Manatee County veterans community, provided photo

Hunsinger, 63, a retired U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant and veteran of 26 months of combat service in Iraq and Kuwait, was the only Manatee County resident among the 20 inductees honored by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet.

“I was surprised when I got the call that I had been selected about 9 a.m. one morning around Thanksgiving,” Hunsinger said. “I said, ‘What?’ ”

In 2004, he led a team of 160 enlisted airmen providing gun truck security in Mosul, Iraq.

Hunsinger was in Mosul when one of the American dining facilities was bombed, killing 24 and wounding 70 others.
read more here

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Hot Yoga murder-suicide under investigation

Police identify suspected gunman and 2 people killed at hot yoga studio in Tallahassee


CNN
Hollie Silverman
November 3, 2018
"As we process the gut-wrenching act of violence that took place this evening in a place of peace in our community, we hold in our hearts everyone who is affected and lift them up in love," officials tweeted from the city's verified account.
(CNN)A gunman on Friday shot six people, two fatally, at a hot yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, police said.

The two people killed were identified as Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21, according to Tallahassee Chief of Police Michael DeLeo.

The suspect, Scott Paul Beierle, 40, of Deltona, Florida, died of a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound, DeLeo said.

One other person was pistol-whipped.

DeLeo said police were unable immediately to draw a connection between the suspect and the victims of the shooting.

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, police responded to a call about a shooting at Hot Yoga Tallahassee.
read more here

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tallahassee Fallen Firefighter Died Day After Birthday

Veteran Tallahassee firefighter Jeffery Atkinson dies on duty
Tallahassee Democrat
December 15, 2017

A 17-year veteran of the Tallahassee Fire Department died overnight Thursday while on duty.

The death of Engineer Jeffery Atkinson was not related to any of the fires fought by the department Thursday, a TFD spokeswoman said. Firefighters had responded to blazes at the International Book Mine on Gaines Street and at a home on Fermanagh Circle in Killearn Estates.

"Engineer Atkinson has served the citizens of Tallahassee and Leon County for over 17 years and he will be greatly missed," a statement released by TFD Friday morning said. "Please extend your thoughts and prayers to his wife, daughter and family during this difficult time."

Atkinson death came just a day after his 43rd birthday.
read more here

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bill allows first responders suffering from PTSD to get workers' comp

Cocoa firefighter fighting for PTSD bill: We're not going to stop
News 13 Orlando
By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
April 14, 2017
In January he returned to work. But, for the last few months he's also found new purpose -- fighting for a bill which would extend workers' compensation to first responders with PTSD.
COCOA -- Although the clock is running out on the legislative session, those fighting for a bill which would provide workers’ comp for PTSD-suffering first responders aren’t deterred.
Firefighter Josh Vandegrift was working a scene where a pedestrian was hit by a vehicle, but when he looked at the victim he saw his own brother. The situation left him struggling with PTSD. Now he's fighting to get a bill passed to allow workers' comp for first responders with PTSD. (Julie Gargotta, Staff)
Bill allows first responders suffering from PTSD to get workers' comp
Bill in danger in Florida House, Senate
Josh Vandegrift, firefighter, fighting for the bill
“We’re not going to stop," said Josh Vandegrift, who is heading to Tallahassee this weekend to share his story during Monday's hearing. “I was stunned, because I can sprain my pinkie on a call and be covered through workmans' comp. But, seeing my little brother dead in the middle of the street isn’t covered.”

A call last July changed the Cocoa firefighter's life forever: While on duty, Vandegrift was dispatched to the scene of a vehicle versus pedestrian crash.

“I’m clearing the people out of the way and I look down. And my brother had a tattoo on the side of his neck and I saw the tattoo. I was like that’s my brother," he said. “I was screaming his name, crying. It was like a flashback of our lives together, because I knew it wasn’t good.”

Emergency crews rushed Vandegrift's youngest brother, Nate, to the hospital, but he died.

“It’s a firefighter or cop’s worst nightmare, is running in on a family member. And it happened to me. And ever since then I’ve been dealing with it," he said.

Ten days later, Vandegrift sought treatment, later diagnosed with PTSD, acute anxiety and depression. The firefighter said that he couldn't eat or sleep, and began immersing himself in wood projects for the therapeutic effects.

“I wanted to make a place for myself and my family to be able to relax. I built a table completely out of pallet wood, took me six weeks. I call it the family table," he said, skimming over a large, lacquered table in his backyard. “It helped me mentally to create something from nothing.”
read more here

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Florida Veteran With PTSD Gets Puppy After Thinking of Other Veterans

Former Marine With PTSD Brought to Tears as His Mom Gifts Him a Puppy for Christmas
Inside Edition
by Johanna Li
December 16, 2016
Finding a puppy under the Christmas tree may be viewed as a clich├ęd holiday tradition, but for this former Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the newborn beagle was the perfect gift.

Peter Coukoulis from Tallahassee, Florida was brought to tears when his family surrounded him Wednesday, and presented him a tiny puppy as an early Christmas present.

"Hey pretty girl," 26-year-old Peter could be heard saying in a video licensed by Caters News, while wiping away tears of joy with one hand, and holding his new puppy in the other.

His mom, Dena Coukoulis, told InsideEdition.com he has been struggling from PTSD since returning to civilian life three years ago.

"Sometimes he just looks sad to me," Dena said. "[He feels] a lack of purpose and self-worth. He has a hard time sleeping because he has bad dreams. Anytime he sees something big in the news, he feels like he could have done more."

Although Peter, who now works as an electrician, was qualified for a service dog, she said her son passed on the opportunity, hoping the dog will go to a veteran who deserved a dog more.
read more here

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sgt. Dustin Wood Battle with PTSD Ended

Fallen Marine remembered after final battle with PTSD
Tallahassee Democrat
Amanda Claire Curcio, Democrat staff writer
June 27, 2016

The war followed him home to Tallahassee.

Until last Sunday, when the Marine never woke up.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Dustin Wood deployed twice to Afghanistan and Iraq. (Photo: Special to the Democrat)
Dustin Allan Wood was 32 years old and a father. The cause of his death is still unclear.

A sergeant at the end of his military service, Wood deployed twice to both Iraq and Afghanistan as a machine gunner and is now being considered for the Purple Heart. Sgt. Dustin Wood

But Wood was on pain medication to deal with wartime injuries. He drank often, usually to “feel less, remember less,” said Beatrice Wolfe, his aunt. She said she wouldn't call his death a suicide, but something like it.

Wolfe is coping with her nephew’s death by speaking out to raise awareness about veterans’ overall struggle with depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
read more here


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tallahassee National Cemetery Opening Soon

VA oversees largest expansion of national cemeteries since the Civil War 
VAntage Point
Chris Erbe
August 4, 2015

More than 500 Veterans, family members and patriotic citizens witnessed the ceremonial breaking of ground and dedication of the Tallahassee National Cemetery earlier this summer.
The event, fittingly held on Memorial Day weekend, attracted a stellar cast of local, state and national dignitaries, community and military bands, color and honor guard units, Veterans and supporters. 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald provided the keynote address. He was joined onstage by Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Jeff Miller, Ranking Member Corrine Brown, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald Walters and other state and local officials. “Here, we establish another glade of America’s most hallowed ground,” said McDonald, “to pay homage to men and women who so valued America that they placed their lives at risk in the defense of generations yet to come.”

When Tallahassee National Cemetery opens for first burials in a few short weeks, it will be part of the largest expansion of national cemeteries since the Civil War. 

In the next few years, VA will open 17 new cemeteries throughout the country.

Later in 2015, VA will dedicate Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, also in Florida. This entire expansion effort will increase or enhance burial access for over two million Veterans and their families. 

Once these planned projects are complete, more than 96 percent of Veterans will have access to a burial option within a 75-mile radius of their homes.

VA will build five full-service national cemeteries—the two in Florida and three others planned for Omaha, Neb., western New York and southern Colorado. read more here

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fake Wounded Veteran Tried to Pay Bar Bill With Rock

Landscaper pretending to be a wounded veteran 'threatened to blow up a Florida bar after employees would not let him pay his tab with a ROCK'
Jared Simpson, 23, from Maine, charged with making false bomb threats, petty theft and disorderly conduct Told people he arrived in Tallahassee, Florida, to party with Rainbow People in national forest
He walked into 4th Quarter Bar and Grill on crutches, which he later ditched and was seen doing handstands on the sidewalk
Witnesses say Simpson placed a briefcase on a table and said, 'Anyone touch this, they will die'
Arrest affidavit states Simpson told police the briefcase contained 'maybe a bomb or a baby' before breaking into a song
By SNEJANA FARBEROV FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
23 February 2015
But when his new acquaintance, who turned out to be a veteran, inquired which military branch he had served in, the 23-year-old replied, 'if I tell you, I have to kill you,' the court documents stated.

Bizarre behavior: The 23-year-old landscaper was overheard 'speaking in tongues' and singing a song to a police officer about how he was a 'rainbow man'

Jared Simpson has learned first-hand what it means to be between a rock and a hard place when he landed behind bars for allegedly trying to pay his bar tab with a pebble – and then threatening to blow up the bar.

Simpson, 23, of North Waterford, Maine, was taken into custody in Tallahassee February 18 on charges of making false bomb threats, petty theft and disorderly conduct.

According to investigators, the bizarre incident unfolded at around 4pm last Wednesday when Simpson tottered into the bar on crutches, ordered a Bud Light beer and then offered the bartender a rock to cover his $10 tab.
read more here

Friday, May 16, 2014

Army vet in immigration limbo

Army vet in immigration limbo after finding out he's not US citizen
The Associated Press
By Laura Wides-Munoz
Published: May 15, 2014

MIAMI — Immigration authorities said Thursday that they are reviewing the case of an Army veteran and Cuban native who recently discovered he is not a U.S. citizen.

Mario Hernandez served in the Army during the Vietnam War and worked for the Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons using a Social Security number he received when he arrived in the country as a child.

The 58-year-old Tallahassee, Florida, man always thought he was a U.S. citizen and repeatedly voted.

It was only last fall when he sought a passport to take a cruise with his wife that he discovered the authorities did not list him as a citizen or a permanent resident.

Suddenly, he was in limbo and under investigation by the U.S. government.

"I served this country," Hernandez said. "I've always tried to prove I'm a good American citizen. I have always taught my children and grandchildren we need to be good stewards of this country. My parents came for freedom. We owe a lot to this country."

Hernandez's attorney, Elizabeth Ricci, said they planned to meet with officials Tuesday in Tallahassee.
read more here

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Military Operation in Tallahassee for homeless veterans

Stand Down For Homeless Veterans at North Florida Fairgrounds
WCTV News
By: Andy Alcock
Apr 04, 2014

There's a military operation underway at Tallahassee's North Florida Fairgrounds. That military operation isn't to fight a war... it's to fight poverty.

It's called the Stand Down for Homeless Veterans.

Across America, it's estimated 45,000 men and women who once wore our country's uniform are homeless.

This event is hoping to reduce that number in our own backyard.

At first glance, it looks like the military has set up camp at the North Florida Fairgrounds complete with barracks.

Only at this camp, it won't be active military bunking down for the weekend, it will be homeless veterans.

Calvin Melvin is marking a troublesome anniversary on this day.

Eleven years ago, the former roofer and Army veteran became homeless.

He lives in part through the generosity of strangers he hopes will look at his sign and give him money.
read more here

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Florida woman pulls gun after Walmart refuses $1 off coupon

Off Topic but really odd and figured,,,,it happened in here in Florida.

Florida woman pulls gun after Walmart refuses coupon
Michael Winter
USA TODAY
March 5, 2013

Jilted shopper Tasered after struggle with deputy. "You're not taking my gun," she said.

A Florida woman is in jail on charges she threatened Walmart workers with a gun after the store refused her Internet dollar-off coupon.

Mary Frances Alday of Crawfordville, near Tallahassee, was arrested Friday and charged with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of battery, for allegedly ramming an assistant manager with a shopping cart. She was also charged with resisting arrest and battery of an officer, according to the arrest report.
read more here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wounded veteran from Tallahassee robbed in Santa Fe

Vet says money for service dog lost in robbery
By Nico Roesler
The New Mexican via AP
Posted : Sunday Feb 17, 2013

SANTA FE, N.M. — Brian Ryder has undergone 23 surgeries to repair his spine and hips after a nearly fatal accident in July 2009, while he was deployed with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He was saving his money to buy a service dog that he hoped could change his life.

One day after he moved to Santa Fe last week, however, he lost his savings of about $700 when two men robbed him at gunpoint just north of the city’s downtown.

Ryder, 38, said in an interview Wednesday that he had moved to Santa Fe on Feb. 6 to live with his mother and continue various treatments at the veterans hospital in Albuquerque.

He figured a service dog would help him in every area of his life — mainly with his mobility. He takes falls on a weekly basis, about nine of which have resulted in concussions. “I’m just scared to death of one of these days taking a fall, hitting my head and losing the memory and cognition I have left,” said Ryder, who walks with a cane.

Originally from Tallahassee, Fla., Ryder was walking back to his mother’s house at about 11:20 p.m. Feb. 7, after having a drink at The Rouge Cat bar on Marcy Street. “It was my first time off a base in four years,” he said. “I wanted to celebrate with a beer.”
read more here

Saturday, November 10, 2012

10 Florida Republicans Who Helped Make Voting More Difficult

UPDATE November 11, 2012
The votes have finally been counted, at least for the most part according to officials. They still don't have all of the military votes but since President Obama has over 70,000 more votes, those votes won't change the end result.
There is a Nov. 16 deadline for overseas and military ballots, but under Florida law, recounts are based on Saturday's results. Only a handful of overseas and military ballots are believed to remain outstanding.


It's one thing to have your own political views and want to defend them. What is not right is trying to prevent people from doing what you want the right to do.

Governor Scott and these politicians should be ashamed of themselves. Aside from adding another hindrance to voters, they managed to give them even more reason to vote next time to make sure these people are out of office!
10 Florida Republicans Who Helped Make Voting More Difficult
(PHOTOS)
Huffington Post
Janie Campbell
Joey Francilus
Posted: 11/09/2012

Who is responsible for Florida's second infamous elections debacle since 2000?

There will be plenty of blame to go around, especially when Miami-Dade County finally finishes counting provisional ballots and gets to the bottom of who declined to shore up voting operations, and when. But blame will also likely fall on conservative state legislators, who fought for two years to reduce the number of early voting days and limit registration after heavy 2008 turnout in the state for Democrats.

"Obama won the most where the lines were the longest," former state Sen. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) told the Tampa Bay Times, speaking of the 2012 turnout.

Gelber called the law reducing early voting "hubris and overreaching by the Republicans, who may learn a lesson that 'Maybe we shouldn't abuse our prisoners that much because sometimes they'll get back at you.'"

Citing admittedly non-existent fraud, the GOP gang reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, eliminating the Sunday before Election Day disproportionately preferred, in large numbers, by blacks, Hispanics, young people and first-time voters.
read more here

Florida still counting votes

Friday, October 26, 2012

“Vets Ride 4 PTSD” Bike Ride To Tallahassee To Raise Awareness

“Vets Ride 4 PTSD” Bike Ride To Tallahassee To Raise Awareness George Tice, a Desert Storm veteran who suffers from PTSD, is on a mission to raise awareness and funds for veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicide among our military.
PRLog (Press Release)
Oct 25, 2012

George Tice, a Desert Storm veteran who suffers from PTSD, is on a mission to raise awareness and funds for veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicide among our military. On Saturday, October 27 at 9 a.m., George Tice has committed to riding a bicycle over 480 miles to the state capital in Tallahassee. He will begin his weeklong journey at the American Legion Post 38 in Downtown Fort Myers at 9 a.m. A public press conference and short ceremony is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. prior to the ride including influential speakers from the community.

Tice hopes to encourage more aid for soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Presently, there are minimal resources and volunteers available to help those suffering from this widespread illness. He plans to meet with active duty family members, veterans and the public along the way to Tallahassee.
read more here

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Florida news headlines too strange to miss

Florida news headlines too strange to miss.
The worst part is these are all true and I live here.

Florida billionaire tells employees Obama a threat to their jobs
Chicago Tribune
October 10, 2012
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida billionaire has told his employees he could be forced to lay off some of them if U.S. President Barack Obama wins a second term, calling his administration a threat to their jobs.
Death of cockroach-eating contest winner in Florida puzzles experts
By NBC News staff and wire services
It could be weeks before autopsy results can determine why a 32-year-old Florida man collapsed and died after winning a cockroach-eating contest.
Insect experts say the mere act of eating roaches, while repulsive to many, shouldn’t have killed Edward Archbold. Some theorize Archbold may have had an allergic reaction.
Whoops! Florida governor gives phone sex number for meningitis hotline
By Michael Peltier
TALLAHASSEE, Florida
Wed Oct 10, 2012
(Reuters) - In an embarrassing mistake, Florida Governor Rick Scott gave out a phone sex hotline number to Floridians seeking information on a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Florida Marine has been killed in Afghanistan

Florida Marine killed in Afghanistan
The Associated Press
Published: Monday, Jun. 25, 2012

MIAMI -- Officials say a Florida Marine has been killed in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense reports that Pfc. Steven P. Stevens II, 23, of Tallahassee, died Friday while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Stevens was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tallahassee Homeless Veterans Shelter Open

Tallahassee Homeless Veterans Shelter Open
Renovated Stuckey Avenue apartment complex to house 50 homeless veterans.
Posted: 12:06 AM Oct 22, 2011
Reporter: Gary Parker

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Florida Vets to See Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Bill?

Vets to See Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Bill?
Florida's home to more than 1-point-6 million military veterans. Many of them have served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan
Reporter: Troy Kinsey
Email Address: news@wctv.tv

Tallahassee, FL -- October 4, 2011 --

Florida's home to more than 1-point-6 million military veterans. Many of them have served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. And all too often, the difficult process of adjusting to life back home can lead to a life of crime. Now, state lawmakers have a plan to prevent that from happening.

Home from the battlefield...And life should be easier for veterans of of the war on terror. But for thousands... The war rages on in the form of post traumatic stress. Having served back-to-back tours of duty in iraq, state representative Jeff Brandes knows all too well. Post-traumatic stress disorder can take a heavy toll.

"Even within the same unit, you might have soldiers who have experienced the exact same things, but are having much more challenging situations in dealing with it when they return back home," said, Republican representative, Jeff Brandes.

That's why Brandes is taking a hard look at a bill that would let veterans with combat-related psychological disorders avoid going to prison.
read more here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Veterans "jail-diversion programs" among 50 Florida Bills in Tallahassee

Veterans Are the Focus Of 50 Bills This Session

By KATIE SANDERS
Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Published: Monday, April 4, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 4, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE | As a retired Army Reserve brigadier general, Judge T. Patt Maney looks out for veterans who show up in his courtroom convicted of crimes at home after a tour of war.

Lawbreakers should get a sentence appropriate for their misdeeds, he said. But certain veterans deserve special evaluation.

Maney, 62, is the namesake of SB 138, which allows counties to develop jail-diversion programs for veterans charged with certain crimes as a result of traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance use stemming from military combat. Serving in Afghanistan in 2005, Maney suffered a traumatic brain injury, the signature affliction of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The idea is one of about 50 bills introduced between the House and Senate this session to benefit veterans and their families. The bills influence veterans' college admissions and tuition, property taxes, state parks admissions, driver's license fees and hunting grounds, among other things.
read more here
Veterans Are the Focus Of 50 Bills This Session

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gov. Elect Scott needs to look at Veteran's Courts

This is a good start in addressing the growing justice crisis but while Scott's advisors are looking at pro-active ways of reducing the inmate population, they also need to look at a huge factor they are not talking about. Our veterans.

Scott team: Ease prison policy
By DARA KAM
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

TALLAHASSEE — Conservatives have been known to be tough on crime. Now they're saying they have to be tough on criminal justice spending as well.

Rick Scott's "law and order" team is telling Florida's incoming governor, who considers himself a conservative's conservative, to cut costs by diverting nonviolent offenders to drug treatment and requiring inmates to get an education and vocational training.

Those actions, which the transition team said could reduce the number of criminals returning to prison and allow the state to stop building new prisons, sound more like past Democratic suggestions than traditional conservative approaches to criminal justice.

But that's exactly where Florida may be headed, following a new national movement heralded by conservatives such as Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist and William Bennett.

They are among a host of dramatic changes that Scott's transition teams for Florida's government proposed last week as he prepares to take office . His inauguration is Jan. 4 in Tallahassee.

But the criminal justice ideas also are unique among the teams' recommendations in their departure from traditional Republican views. Instead of the "lock 'em up" approach to crime, the new recommendations echo the advice social progressives have been trying, unsuccessfully, to put in place for years - spend less on prisons and more on treatment, intervention and prevention.

Scott's advisers suggested a radical revamp of the state's criminal justice system, which houses more than 100,000 prisoners and has swelled by more than 1,000 percent during the past four decades.

Faced with bulging prison populations and a rate of one in three prisoners winding up back behind bars, the advisers concede that being tough on crime hasn't worked.

On top of that, there are ever-tightening budgetary constraints.

Fiscal conservatives realized that "we were not only not getting good value for the money being spent, but getting bad value and bad results," said Linda Mills, a criminal justice consultant who served on Scott's transition team for law and order.

Then law-and-order conservatives began to accept similar conclusions about mandatory- minimum sen tences and other tough-on-crime laws, Mills said. Some, she said, even have publicly asked for forgiveness for having played a part in exploding prison growth. Now they are leading the charge toward rehabilitation.
read more here
Scott team Ease prison policy

20 States already have them. According to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs  1.7 million veterans were residing in Florida in 2009 which would make sense for Florida to have Veterans Courts added to what they want to do to take care of veterans instead of locking them up.

Contact: Sandy Adkins
Communications Specialist
National Center for State Courts
757.259.1515


State courts honor veterans by providing specialized programs

Williamsburg, Va. (Nov. 11, 2010) — Throughout the U.S. today, ceremonies, parades, and other special events are taking place to honor the nation's war veterans. But every day, a growing number of our country's state courts are recognizing veterans in a very different and significant way — by establishing specialized courts and programs designed to address the social and legal issues associated with servicemen and women.

Currently at least 20 states have veterans courts: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. At least 10 other states are considering the issue either through studies or proposed legislation.
read more here

State courts honor veterans