The Law: Criminal Spillover

Ever-increasing crime rates add up to a nationwide scandal. In Florida, they present a particularly virulent problem: the state's criminal-justice system is backing up like a flooded sewer.

Florida crime has quadrupled since 1965, and soon the backlog of court cases became a judicial disaster. In 1971 the state supreme court decreed that defendants would have to be freed if they were not tried within six months for felonies and three months for lesser offenses. After some turmoil, speedy trials became standard. But with more offenders being processed, the jails and prisons began filling....

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