Ron DeSantis Signs Probation Reform Law

( A Florida law reforming the state’s probation system went into effect this month after being signed into law in early June by Governor Ron DeSantis. The law will allow 150,000 Floridians to exit the state’s criminal justice system over the next five years.

The bipartisan legislation unanimously passed the Florida legislature with the help of the nonprofit REFORM Alliance, which was founded by rappers Meek Mill and Jay along with Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin.

The law will shorten the time some Floridians remain on probation. Reducing probation time means fewer monthly fees, which disproportionately impact low-income people. Instead, the law will redirect these individuals into the workforce.

Those on probation and community control will receive new education and workforce credits by shortening the probation terms for those who pursue a GED, college degree, vocational certification, and/or full-time employment.

Florida will also allow remote reporting so individuals won’t have to meet a probation officer in person. This change benefits those who don’t have reliable access to transportation or who risk missing a probation meeting over childcare or a work schedule.

The legislation was sponsored by Florida Republican Rep. Traci Koster of Tampa. According to Axios, Koster said if she is re-elected in November, she plans to pursue other criminal justice reforms, including reintroducing a bill to compensate those who were wrongly incarcerated.

According to REFORM Alliance, as of 2016, 4.5 million of the 6.6 million people in the US criminal justice system were on probation, parole, or another form of supervised release. Of those 75 percent were non-violent offenders. At least 40 percent were serving terms for minor offenses.

Since 2019, REFORM Alliance has assisted in passing 14 bills in nine states, including New York, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, and now Florida.