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Crime survivors — including rapper, NFL player — unveil 2020 agenda

Survivors of crime from across Florida Wednesday to unveil their legislative agenda.

All week crime survivors from across Florida have met with lawmakers and Wednesday they gathered to announce their legislative agenda.

Rap artist T-Pain, who knows all too well the suffering caused by violent crime.

“In 2017 with my niece being murdered in Tallahassee,” said the Grammy-winning artist, letting it be known the T initial in his name stands for Tallahassee. “There not really being anything in place for any reconciliation or anything like that.”

The rapper was on hand to support other victims’ push for reforms in Florida.

“Being that there’s no momentum in the past, any pace and any step forward is progress,” T-Pain said.

The group’s main audience is convincing the Florida Legislature.

“We as crime survivors know where the gaps are and what can help us and our communities. We just need to be heard,” said Aswad Thomas with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.

Former Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey, whose career was cut short when he fell victim to gun violence in South Florida, joined survivors as they unveiled their 2020 agenda, which includes housing and employment protections for victims.

“Many victims and witnesses to crimes struggle with safety in their homes in their community,” crime survivor Ladonna Butler said.

The group also supports legislation that would give certain prisoners the ability to earn more time off their sentences for good behavior.

Jo-Lee Manning’s daughter was killed in a hit and run involving a woman who had been arrested 10 previous times.

“I’d be willing for her to get out of jail now if she could be a productive citizen,” Manning said.

Just a day before crime survivors came out in support of allowing prisoners to earn more time off their sentence, law enforcement officials stood on the fourth floor of the Capitol announcing their opposition to the idea. Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-Broward County, who supports the reforms, said the Legislature has a choice to make.

“We’re either for criminal justice reform or we’re not,” Jones said.

Last year crime survivors were able to score some of the first major criminal justice reform the state had seen in 20 years. Whether they can repeat that success is yet to be seen.

Jake Stofan

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