Update: Is Mike Satz’s Drug War Valid Or Bogus?

BY BUDDY NEVINS 

 

What is going on at Mike Satz’s State Attorney’s Office?

He says he is enforcing the law.  Critics say Satz is locking up people who don’t deserve jail.

Statistics from the Florida Department of Corrections indicate that Broward has the third highest per capita rate in the state of jailing offenders for mandatory minimum drug offenses.

The statistics are contained in a December report from Florida Tax Watch.

Some defense attorneys, including several in the Public Defenders Office, claim Satz should show some flexibility.  He should charges some drug abusers with lesser offenses to keep them from the clutches of minimum mandatory sentences which send them to a state prison for years.

“What am I supposed to do? The law says mandatory minimum,” Satz says. “I am sworn to follow the law.”

He points out that in our system of government, the Legislature makes laws.

“I can’t be a mini-Legislture making decisions on my own,” Satz says. “I must follow the law.”

Then why do Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties jail so many fewer drug criminals? Don’t they follow the law?

“I don’t know,” Satz says. “Maybe they are not following the mandatory minimums.”

My take: Other urban Southeast Florida counties apparently cut a break for those caught with small amounts of drugs. They are apparently reducing the charges on some defendants.

But Satz insists his prosecutors aren’t locking up abusers with one or two joints in their pocket.

“These are major traffickers,” Satz says.

“We looked at one year (2008-2009) of just cocaine possession,” Satz continues. “The average prior arrests were eight.”

Satz says he does have some differences with minimum mandatory sentencing.  For instance, he believes that possession of a larger number of some narcotic pills be required before  a  heavy sentence kicks in.

The Legislature has been considering relaxing minimum mandatory sentences for some drug charges.

In the meantime, Satz says that he must obey the law.

What I think: Minimum mandatory sentences should be changed.

What purpose does it serve locking these people up for a non-violent crime?

Locking folks up for possession of small amounts of drugs has done nothing to curb substance abuse.

Nothing.

The War on Drugs is a war that will never be won.

Never.

The War on Drugs is a colossal waste of money.

How much?

In fiscal year 2011, Florida taxpayers spent $313 million on jailing over 16,000 for drug offenses.  Many of those offenses were simple possession that required a minimum mandatory sentence.

Right now, Broward is helping throw that money away.

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Check out the stats below (click to enlarge):



20 Responses to “Update: Is Mike Satz’s Drug War Valid Or Bogus?”

  1. Sam The Sham says:

    I agree. Buddy, do you have the numbers for what it costs per inmate to put a price on these incarcerations?

    I bet Sam Fields is glad he does not live in Osceola County.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Fields would probably like to like in Osceola County for one reason. More clients. He is a lawyer who defends those accused of a crime.

  2. A Clear Contrasty says:

    Chris Mancini lost to Satz in the Democratic primary, so we are now left with Satz vs Republican Jim Lewis. Lewis is clearly opposed to Satz’s position where non-violent drug offenses are concerned:

    http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2010/10/attorney_general_candidate_jim_lewis.php

    [...] Jim Lewis: Being a prosecutor for 12 years taught me that the state has limited resources to handle dangerous criminals, we only have so many prison beds, and we really can’t afford to build anymore. It makes no sense to waste law enforcement resources, court time, and jail space on marijuana users.

    New Times: ​California and Colorado were out front on legalizing medicinal marijuana. Will Florida be next?

    Jim Lewis: Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes only will accomplish little except making doctors who write prescriptions rich. Florida should take the lead and legalize marijuana for adults and get the tax revenue like we do for alcohol and tobacco products. [...]

  3. Satz's Crime says:

    What you fail to note, Mr. Nevins, is that a majority of those in jail for these minor, victimless crimes are young black males. Satz destroys their lives for a few joints.

  4. Johnny Rotten says:

    Buddy I’m not sure how the statistics are broken down but did you take into consideration Broward has been ground zero in the prescription pill epidemic?

    FROM BUDDY:

    I didn’t develop these statistics. They are from the state.

  5. Show Me the MONEY says:

    The real criminals are the Fort Lauderdale Police who on a regular basis plant drugs, commit armed robbery, falsify reports just to bring up arrest statistics against the young black men in the hood. Chief Frank Adderley is a disgrace, his #1 suck up boy Captain Rick Maglione that covered all the crimes committed by the so called “Raiders,” the crimes by all FLPD officers that worked the $cott W Roth$tein Ponzi bodyguard detail approved by none other than Chief Frank Adderley. Crimes covered up by Capt Rick Maglione again, so Mr Satz why you would let criminal LEO’s tarnish your career is beyond me, grow some balls clean up the criminal element in Broward County law enforcement make them live up to the oath of office that they swore to uphold.

  6. A Clear Contrast says:

    On April 19, 2010, the cost was quoted as $107.71 per day per Broward County inmate.

    http://www.criminologycenter.fsu.edu/p/pdf/pretrial/Broward%20Co.%20Cost%20Benefit%20Analysis%202010.pdf

  7. A Clear Contrast says:

    From the same source: “Broward County’s single largest expense from county tax dollars is the jail. The jail represents $.25 of every tax dollar.”

  8. Lamberti is garbage says:

    Why are there not more public corruption cases? Broward and Dade have more than NY and Chicago combined.

  9. now what says:

    Ok, and so?

    Do we vote for Jim Lewis? Jim Lewis whose most famous acts are losing the PD’s race years ago for wearing a Klan outfit to a halloween party? The same Jim Lewis who has run and lost for every office in town? The same Jim Lewis who tells everyone he runs because he gets new business from it?

    It would appear that Help Me Howard and his galpal Judy Stern made it a condition of their support for anyone to run against Satz to defned Joe Eggelletion in order to be their candidate. That is why no one of substance ran.

    Why would any candidate of substance have wanted to go against Mancini and Staz?,wasting time, money and resources only to split the black vote with Mancini while Mike would get the majority of voters on name recognition alone.

    As usual another case of Judy Stern and the Ghost of Joe Eggelletion screwing over the County for selfish purposes. One can only hope Joe violates his probation and does more time as he deserves it.

  10. Courthouse Observer says:

    I agree with Now What Says. Help Me Howard pushed loser Mancini into the primary with a promise of support which never materialized. Help Me Howard is now helping Lewis who can’t win. Help Me Howard had a chance to find a candidate to run against Satz and failed.

  11. Jeff Marcus, Chief of Felonies, Broward State Attorney's Office says:

    Buddy,
    You could not be more off-base. Mandatory Minimum Drug Crimes are Drug Trafficking offenses. These are major drug dealers. They should be and are sent to prison in Broward County. This chart is an indictment of some counties that do not send Drug Traffickers to prison. Your article says Mike “believes everybody with any amount of drugs should be locked up because that is the law” and that “other urban Southeast Florida counties apparently cut a break for those caught with small amounts of drugs”. Buddy, these are not small amount of drugs or mere drug users. These people sent to prison are large scale drug dealers. Mike absolutely does not believe in sending people with small amounts to jail. The State Attorney’s Office puts small first time drug users in their own diversion program. Additionally, Mr. Satz was recently honored for his twenty years of support for Drug Court.

    Your piece is flat out wrong and you owe Mike Satz an apology.

  12. @sao says:

    Jeff, you are wrong. Because the trafficking offense requires mere posession of 8 vicodin, it is not all dangerous criminals. It is clear from looking at the graph, that Broward SAO is using the law to lock up small time users.
    If you were diverting, as you say, then the rate on the graph would be similar to dade and palm beach. The graph speaks for itself and makes buddy’s point.
    Buddy is right and you owe HIM and appology.

  13. Barack Obama says:

    Jeff Marcus,

    As the Chief of Felonies, you should know that “Drug Trafficking” is a legal presumption. It does not mean that the person was in fact, involved in trafficking narcotics. It does not mean that there is a scintilla of evidence that the person was selling drugs. It means that because of the weight of the pills, the legislature determined that the name of the crime should be called “Drug Trafficking.”

    Oh and by the way, I’m sure you also realize, since you are the Chief of Felonies, that the calculation includes the entire weight of the pill, including any legal substances mixed. For example, in a percocet with narcotics and tylenol, both substances are used towards the “weight” of the drugs.

    So how many pills qualifies you as a “major drug dealer” with this perverse weighing system?

    6 percocet can earn you a 3 year minimum mandatory as a “drug trafficker.” Hardly a “major drug dealer”, as you say, Jeff.

  14. Courthouse Observer says:

    Get a grip, Jeff and Mike? I’ve had one client recently that your office prosecuted for two rocks in his pocket, not a dime to show that he was trafficking and one prior for loitering. You charged him with trafficking.

    This is your big time traffickers. I hope you enjoy ruining a kids’ life.

  15. ASA Alu says:

    I can only speak about my own experience while assigned to the Felony Trial Unit. Anytime I had a trafficking case with no indication of dealing, I took the file to Mr. Marcus for a break down and never had any issues in doing so.

    I have heard from Miami lawyers over and over on how they get “deals” in Miami for both non-violent and violent crimes. I don’t know what the situation is in Miami and why they break down the majority of their cases. If I were the average voter, I would be voting for the person who is doing their job with integrity and consistency for everyone regardless of your skin color and that person is Mike Satz!

  16. @sao says:

    The SAO has the authority to charge with either attempted trafficking, which does not carry a mandatory minimum, or simple possession, which contains no weight limit.

    Nowhere does it say in 893 that you are REQUIRED to charge a trafficking offense for possession of a certain weight. Somebody in Mike Satz’s office makes that decision.

    Truth be told, I think some of the reasons are $$$. If they are elligible for a local program, the county pays. If they go to prison on a MM, the state pays.

  17. A Clear Contrast says:

    Good work, Obama & Observer! :-)

    Jeff and Mike don’t just owe Buddy an apology. They owe all the citizens of Broward County an apology, accompanied by their letters of resignation.

  18. Case Filing says:

    Mr. Marcus point made sense, because the statistics could skewed by other counties that do not charge appropriately and making Broward seem higher than the real experience in the field.

    But then that ASA commented saying “anytime” they have trafficking case with no indication (I guess that means no evidence) of trafficking, the charges are reduced with help of a supervisor. That may prove Buddy’s point.

    What is going on in Case Filing? When does that happen, at arraignment or on the eve of trial when that ASA realizes going to lose? How long did the defendant sit in jail before broken down? Is that part of the reason for the increased numbers? How many got broken down by that ASA, says “anytime”, does that mean once, twice, 30? How about others? Does this depend on the ASA being scared of a loss in trial or wanting more trial experience even if loses.

    Instead of a glowing campaign endorsement from someone in the office with helpful facts, the ASA’s comment proves Buddy’s point.

  19. A Clear Contrast says:

    Alu is saying that anytime SHE wanted to get a “break down” she could get one. But this does not mean that her co-workers were following her lead. If some of her co-workers have a different preference (e.g., “no break downs ever”), what effect might that have? Maybe ALL of her co-workers have this preference, or something very close to it. Certainly something is amiss in that office in a very big way, and whatever the exact cause, leadership has allowed it to persist in a very egregious form for a very long time and has taken no effective steps to correct it. Resignations from leadership (i.e., Jeff and Mike) are the appropriate outcome for this type of situation.

  20. A Clear Contrast says:

    It could also be related to Alu’s status as a city commissioner – she might be given special treatment (a “break down” any time she wants one) which may not be available to many others in the office who are just ordinary employees.