Q&A – How Many Laws In Florida Aren’t Enforced?

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Today’s entry: When you mentioned over 160 new laws took effect you reminded me of something I’ve long wondered about. How many laws are really enforced? Or better still how many aren’t? It seems to me a lot of them probably aren’t effectual. 

Bottom Line: On July 1st, 162 new laws took effect as Florida’s new fiscal year kicked off. Before addressing your question as specifically as I can, it’s worth mentioning that many laws are temporary and are often repeated or tweaked annually that contribute to the sheer volume of what’s passed. Examples of temporary laws are the state’s annual budget and the sales tax holidays, each of which is its own law. So, it’s not as though we’re necessarily adding hundreds of new laws to the books each year. Before talking about Florida specifically, the greatest research on the topic has happened at the federal level. 

You may recall the news several years ago that most of us have broken laws sufficient to send us to prison based on current federal laws. That was based on the work of Rutgers University’s Douglas Husak who produced a study illustrating approximately 70% of Americans have committed a federal offense. Now, most of that alarmingly high number is explained away by one common offense. Experimenting with illegal drugs. According to a 2012 study, 37% of adults over 20 have tried at least one federally illegal drug. That leaves 33% of the population having committed a crime potentially punishable by jail time unrelated to drugs.

A remarkable DOJ study estimates that 30% of Americans have an arrest/criminal record by the age of 23 and 22% of these arrests are drug related. The point in mentioning is that without a doubt there are numerous laws that aren’t enforced. 

As for Florida, there’s no clear research I’ve been able to locate which would empirically indicate the number of laws that are simply ignored. Instead, what I can share is that Florida is one of the states most likely to enforce the laws it does have on the books. Florida’s imprisonment rate is 23% higher than the national average for those who are arrested and ranks 10th highest nationally. This while overall incarcerations have declined by 28% over the past decade as overall crime rates have declined in Florida. This indicates Florida tends to mean business when arrests are made and strongly pursues prosecutions for those who violate the law. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

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