Governor Rick Scott today signed legislation to protect Florida families at Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. He also highlighted funding for the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Governor Scott signed HB 1325 and HB 1327 to protect the privacy of victims of human trafficking.
Governor Scott said, "As a father of two daughters and a grandfather, I take the health and safety of Florida's families seriously. We've made great progress in making our communities safer and FDLE recently reported that Florida is at a 42-year crime low, DCF also currently licenses three safe houses for human trafficking victims, with plans to add four more in the coming months.
"While these figures demonstrate that we are improving efforts to protect Florida families, the reality is that even one violent crime is too many. By signing these bills into law, we are continuing our commitment of protecting victims of abuse and making our communities even safer."
The Florida Families First 2013-2014 budget included critical issues for the Department of Juvenile Justice's Roadmap to System Excellence. The Florida Legislature approved all of the DJJ Roadmap budget priorities, including nearly $11 million for prevention and diversion services.
The Florida Department of Children and Families began implementing the Safe Harbor Act in January, allowing the state to treat victims of human trafficking as victims instead of criminals and will be announcing a set of priority initiatives related to Human Trafficking by the end of the year.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Uniform Crime Report reported decrease of violent and non violent crime. The Florida Families First 2013-2014 budget includes $850,541 dollars for 12 additional crime laboratory analyst positions to keep pace with increasing requests for DNA evidence analysis, and $1.2 million to replace Genetic Analyzers to process DNA evidence.
Senator Jack Latvala said, "The cooperation of the Legislature and the Governor in passing these bills illustrates our obligation and commitment to protect those who have been victims of human trafficking. It is through this collaboration that Florida leads the nation in anti-human trafficking efforts."
Senator Anitere Flores said, "The victims of human trafficking deserve the opportunity to heal from the trauma they have experienced without being subjected to public record requirements. Due to the collaboration of the Governor and the Legislature, victims will now be able to begin their journey of recovery in peace."
Representative Ross Spano said, "The passage of this bill reflects a commitment by the Governor and legislature to protect those who are victimized by such heartless crimes. By offering victims of human trafficking the opportunity to expunge their criminal records, they will be afforded the opportunity to recover and succeed."
Representative Darryl Rouson said, "Protecting the victims of this heinous crime is an initiative supported by all members of the Legislature and the Governor. The attention that is being given to this issue will not only help current victims, but also protect future victims by preventing this crime from growing."
Department for Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins said, "This past January, the Safe Harbor Act took effect, allowing children who are rescued from prostitution to get help from DCF's child welfare professionals instead of being placed in juvenile delinquency. But this is just the beginning, and there is still much work to be done. I want to thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their continued support in our fight against human trafficking with the passage of these two bills, giving victims a better chance at a brighter future."
Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters said, "The Florida Families First Budget funds DJJ's priorities, placing a particular emphasis on front end services that help youth avoid involvement in the juvenile justice system. These investments will enable DJJ to help more of our state's at risk and troubled youth succeed, ultimately contributing to the safety of communities across the state."
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said, "Governor Scott is working to provide law enforcement the resources necessary to protect Florida families, visitors and businesses. The Florida Families First budget will expand FDLE's DNA capacity improving our turn-around time and allowing us to keep pace with increasing demand."