Drawn from law enforcement, prosecutors, legal scholars and other experts, new task force will convene on Thursday/Public can begin weighing in at FloridaStandYourGround.org
TALLAHASSEE – Tired of the ongoing inaction by the governor and other Tallahassee officials to convene a promised task force to review Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, state Senator Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) announced Tuesday that he had formed one of his own.
He also announced the launch of his “Stand Your Ground” website. “FloridaStandYourGround.org” went live on Tuesday to allow Floridians and people throughout the country to immediately begin weighing in with their experiences, thoughts and suggestions on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
“There is no reasonable explanation why a task force should not be assembled today,” said Senator Smith. “Floridians opening fire and claiming self defense are not waiting. Neither is the judicial system or law enforcement officers as they’re forced to render an opinion of guilt or innocence all based on the fuzzy language inherent in this statute. A thorough review of ‘Stand Your Ground’ by those on the front lines of its use and abuse is long overdue. We’re getting to work to make that happen.”
Since the law’s passage in 2005, so-called “justifiable homicides” have increased threefold in Florida. The February shooting death of Trayvon Martin by an armed neighborhood watch volunteer who has claimed self defense finally turned the national spotlight on the contentious law. Originally touted as a way to beef up safety protections for average citizens, “Stand Your Ground” has increasingly been used as an effective defense tool following confrontations by violent individuals, a number of them apparently deliberately provoked.
Senator Smith’s Stand Your Ground Task Force will begin its work this Thursday in Ft. Lauderdale. Once its review is completed, it intends to present its findings and recommendations for immediate legislative action.
Members of the group, drawn from law enforcement, state prosecutors and other legal experts include Frank Adderley, Ft. Lauderdale Police Chief, Mike Satz, Broward County State Attorney, former Senator and U. S. Attorney Dan Gelber, Rep. Perry Thurston (D-Ft. Lauderdale), and Carlos Martinez, Miami Dade County Public Defender.
Senator Smith announced the task force’s launch following repeated efforts to urge Governor Rick Scott to follow through on his promise to begin a similar effort. Thus far the governor has refused, claiming a review could wait pending the outcome of the Martin investigation which may take up to a year or longer.
“Stalling on a critically needed review of this law threatens to put more unsuspecting lives in danger, and more criminals back on the street,” said Sen. Smith. “Transforming from the ‘Sunshine State” to the ‘Shoot First’ state also risks permanently damaging Florida’s international reputation and with that, our struggling economy. We don’t need promises by the governor of possible future action. We need the action now, and we need results, and that’s what this task force is prepared to deliver.”
The “Stand Your Ground” task force will convene Thursday, April 5, 2012, from 4p.m. until 9 p.m., Broward County Main Library, First Floor Auditorium, located at 101 South Andrews Avenue, in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and will be able to present first-hand accounts and input on how Stand Your Ground is working in Florida.
CONTACT: MICHELLE DeMARCO