Proposed Florida Bill Would Allow Certain Criminals to Serve Time in the Military Instead of Jail

Florida could soon give people convicted of certain crimes the option of serving time in the military instead of behind bars. The Blaze reports that Democrat Senator Darryl Rouson introduced Senate Bill 1356 on December 21, allowing qualifying offenders to join the military in lieu of jail time. Under the plan, the criminal would have to be no older than 25-years-old, with a sentence of no more than four years. Additionally, the person cannot be charged with multiple felonies or be a violent career criminal.

The convicted individual would also have to fulfill any financial responsibilities incurred due to sentencing and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. If a convicted person does not meet the imposed requirements, they will have to return to court for resentencing. If the bill is passed and made law, it would bring back the practice of judges ordering offenders to serve in the military, which was standard practice until the Vietnam War.

FL_SB 1356

Vietnam veteran Joe West told WCTV, “It made a lot of good people out of people that may have gone a different path had they not had that option.” West noted that the legislation could help curb violent crime while promoting patriotism among criminals, stating, “I think it would help them understand our country better and I think it would give them a love of country that a lot of them these days are lacking.”

Barney Bishop, a spokesperson for the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, a group dedicated to criminal justice reform, endorsed the bill as well. He said that the proposal has appeal, especially for the nonviolent criminals that his group aims to assist.

If the bill passes, it will face multiple challenges before it can be fully implemented. Military publication Task & Purpose explains that “the all-volunteer military is under no obligation to accept anyone.” also noted that the armed forces have a high standard for a moral character that precludes those with a major criminal past from enrolling unless a waiver is granted. Waivers are handled on a case-by-case basis and require numerous letters of reference from police officers, school authorities, or religious leaders attesting to the applicant’s improved behavior and suitability for service.

In September, ​​Democratic Representative Patricia Williams proposed a similar bill, H.B. 187. It has since been in the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee. If signed into law, both S.B. 1356 and the related house bill would take effect on July 1, 2022.

  1. So much winning coming out of Florida. Always doing the right thing, But of course if we finally end the war of drugs then the prisons wouldn’t be overpopulated to begin with. Drugs won. Get over it. 😉

  2. This was a good thing in the past for a few carefully selected lawbreakers. But, today’s military has been so politicized and corrupted that I wouldn’t expect it to provide the sort of structure that helped some get their lives together in the past. The armed forces would have to be restored to what they were fifty, or seventy years ago to be useful for this — the politicians are making them worthless for their intended purpose (or anything else).

  3. I have known a couple men that went into the military per judges orders. Both of them said it was the best thing that could have happened. As a retired Corrections Officer I can attest to the fact prisons are a warehouse for young boys mostly…In the state I was working the Administration ran the drug rings protected all the way to the Secretary of Corrections…I saw many, many kids that should have never been in the prison system…but, almost everyone connected to the justice system, police, DAs, county drug task forces, parole boards, private prisons, judges, have one thing in common. they are Freemasons…all they ever do in the prison sytem i worked at is lie….nothing but lie…They all need to go and replaced by honest people…Many times, they sent assassins, but, THE SHEEPDOG, survives…GOD wins…

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