ORLANDO, Fla. — On Monday, State Attorney Andrew Bain revealed changes he’s made within the Ninth Judicial Circuit as he marked his first 100 days in office.
What You Need To Know
- State attorney Andrew Bain announced changes he’s made within the Ninth Judicial Circuit as he marks his first 100 days in office
- The changes include the addition of 13 prosecutors and the expansion of diversion programs for nonviolent offenders
- Operation New Hope is one of several nonprofits that Bain says he’s been working with for a pre-trial diversion program for nonviolent offenders
The changes include the addition of 13 prosecutors and the expansion of diversion programs for nonviolent offenders.
Bain said he has had several meetings with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Children and Families and faith-based organizations "to figure out how to hold our youth accountable while providing them and their family with much-needed services to keep them from falling further into the juvenile justice system."
He said he’s been working with nonprofits to create a second chance program. The resulting pretrial diversion program will roll out in two phases, with the first phase tentatively scheduled to kick off in December.
Bain said the program will allow prosecutors to devote more time and resources to "more serious and complex crimes."
Operation New Hope is one of several nonprofits that Bain said he has been working with for a pre-trial diversion program for nonviolent offenders.
Kiara Rucker, who works for Operation New Hope, said the organization had been in contact with former State Attorney Monique Worrell before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis replaced her with Bain.
Rucker said the nonprofit has been in talks with Bain for the last several months and under his administration, when the program kicks off in December, it will be the first time the State Attorney's Office has referred diversion clients to the nonprofit through a partnership.
Rucker said she believes the program will give returning citizens a second chance and a new outlook on life.
“Having this second chance project with the State Attorney’s Office kicking off is definitely a re-entry initiative going in the right direction,” she said. “A lot of times those with criminal backgrounds, they’re looked over as far as employment, housing, all kind of barriers, so having a program like ours and working alongside the State Attorney’s Office will be hand-in-hand a great movement.”
Rucker said most people know someone affected by the criminal justice system.
“About 95% of those that are incarcerated are going to be released, so there has to be something done with that population," she said. "Having a second chance initiative here it would open up the doors for untapped talent."
She says the nonprofit’s program is geared toward nonviolent offenders, and going through their ready-for-work training would be the basis of the diversion program.
The State Attorney’s Office said their juvenile civil citation and adult civil citation programs fall under the pre-trial diversion umbrella.
“The adult civil citation will expand under Bain’s new diversion program to include all law enforcement agencies in the entire circuit," said Bain's director of communications, Sydney McCloud. "An officer can elect to issue a civil citation to an adult with no adult criminal history for the lowest level offenses instead of arresting or issuing a notice to appear."
Bain said on Monday that the juvenile diversion for nonviolent crimes is one of his focuses.
Officials in the State Attorney’s Office said they are not yet able to release additional details about the second chance program, but in the past, violent offenders do not qualify for diversion programs and repeat offenders cannot receive a diversion for the same offense.
During the press conference for his first 100 days, Bain also highlighted several policy changes.
“Following the law and doing what is right is not political,” he said.
One change he pointed to was the reinstatement of mandatory minimum sentencing for felons who possess guns.
Another is that assistant state attorneys have undergone training and have been instructed to actively pursue sentencing enhancements, which are laws designed to protect the public from repeat offenders.
Under this new policy, he said a process has been established for instances when law enforcement officers use deadly force. In those cases, he said a grand jury would be convened.
He has also created a special investigator position to conduct investigations regarding possible law enforcement misconduct.
“We will always pursue justice based on a focus on victim-centered prosecution, and we will continue to fight every day for our victims in this office,” Bain said.
In the last three months Bain said he’s “brought home” 13 experienced prosecutors and taken 100 cases to trial — five of them homicide cases, that all ended with convictions.
Additionally, Bain said his office has a 71% conviction rate in the 49 felony cases his office has prosecuted.
Bain also said that his office has, or will, review the case of any person who requests it.
He said his main goal has been to strengthen the relationship with police through weekly meetings with most of the nearby agencies.