Amendment 11 would give the legislature the authority to apply sentencing reforms retroactively.
What does this mean?
Anyone sentenced to longer sentences under old criminal laws could have their sentences reduced if the legislature allows it.
Who would benefit?
In 2003, Cynthia Powell was sentenced to a mandatory minimum 25 years in prison for selling a handful of her own prescription pills to her neighbor. Despite being a first-time drug offender in her 40's with health problems, the judge had no choice but to impose the 25-year mandatory sentence because of the way the law was written.
In 2014, the legislature changed the minimum sentence for her offense to seven years.
Cynthia Powell has already served more than TWICE that amount of time in prison, but Florida's Constitution prohibits the legislature from reducing her sentence.
If Amendment 11 passes, the legislature will be allowed to correct this discrepancy. If it doesn't pass, Cynthia will remain in prison until 2023.
Read more about Cynthia's case here.
Erik Weyant was 22-years-old and managing his own business in 2006 when he went to a bar to meet a friend. After a confrontation with a group of men in the bar, Erik left. The same group of men confronted Erik. Fearing a beating or even worse, Erik jumped into his vehicle and scrambled to start it as the men tried to block his exit. Erik frantically pulled his legal handgun from the console and fired shots into the air. The men dispersed and he was able to drive away.
Several months later, Erik was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. He went to trial to prove that he had acted purely in self-defense, but the jury convicted him. Though no one was hurt, and though the sentencing guidelines called for a 13-month sentence, Florida's mandatory minimum laws required Erik's judge to sentence Erik to 20 years in prison.
In 2016 - based in part on Erik's case - the Florida legislature removed aggravated assault from the list of crimes that carry mandatory sentences. Under current law, Erik would have faced a five-year maximum sentence - Erik has already served twice that amount.
Unfortunately, Florida's constitution prohibits the legislature from applying the sentencing change to Erik's case, or any of the hundreds like it. If Amendment 11 passes, the legislature could fix this injustice. If it fails, Erik will remain in prison until 2027.
For more on Erik's story, watch this WTSP news report.