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On Oct. 30 and 31, a group of more than 40 panelists, including distinguished jurists, legal practitioners, academics, journalists and criminal justice policymakers from across the state of Florida, met to discuss sentencing, corrections and crime reduction at an Advanced Journalism Seminar at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg.
Stetson Law Dean Emeritus Bruce Jacob provided the keynote address on Oct. 30 to more than 50 seminar attendees, including some of the state of Florida’s top crime and court beat reporters. Jacob discussed his experiences as a young lawyer arguing the Gideon v. Wainwright case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also discussed programs he helped start for people re-entering society after serving time in prison and the current need for more public defenders and pro bono lawyers to represent people who cannot afford a lawyer. When asked about the recent California law seeking to extend right-to-counsel to civil cases, Jacob replied, “I think that’s fine but I think we need to comply with Gideon first, because right now there are not enough lawyers for indigent defendants in criminal cases.”
Stetson Law professors Robert Batey and Judith Scully joined top legal expert panels on diversions and alternatives to incarceration and views on crime from the prosecution and the defense perspectives.
Professor Batey discussed sentencing laws that fuel Florida’s high incarceration rate, mandatory minimums for drug trafficking, gun use and recidivism. The panel on diversion and alternatives to incarceration also discussed intervention programs, prison overcrowding, and the importance of educating the public on these issues through the media.
“Dig a little deeper,” Professor Scully advised the audience of a panel on prosecution and defense perspectives. She urged seminar attendees to consider environmental factors in sentencing juveniles accused of crimes, referring to a case heading to the U.S. Supreme Court from Florida which could have an impact on whether juveniles face life in prison for crimes without the possibility of parole. Scully also discussed the disproportionate result of fighting the war on drugs only in low-income neighborhoods.
Stetson University College of Law helped sponsor the seminar organized by the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime & Justice and the Pew Center on the States, which was held at Poynter.
Post date: Nov. 3, 2009
Media contact: Brandi Palmer | firstname.lastname@example.org
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