The Florida Justice Institute (FJI) has filed a Motion for Order to Show Cause to enforce a Consent Decree that prohibits overcrowding in the Brevard County Jail. The Decree requires the jail population to remain below a certain level, but in recent years the population has exceeded that level. FJI has been monitoring the Decree since it was entered in 1993, and has been working with Brevard County to implement methods of reducing overcrowding. However, the overcrowding has persisted, requiring FJI to return to court to enforce the Decree.
“The Brevard County jail should only hold the number of people it is designed for,” said Ray Taseff, lead attorney with the Florida Justice Institute. “It’s time for the County to come into compliance with this long-running agreement.”
Although the operational capacity of the Jail is 1493 people, the average daily population for October 2019 was 1681, September 2019 was 1702, and August 2019 was 1736.
The case was originally filed pro se in 1983, seeking extensive improvements to the Jail. A Consent Decree was entered in 1993, and eventually the issue of overcrowding became the only remaining element of the case. In 2004, in response to the persistent overcrowding, FJI sought to the enforce the Decree by filing a Motion for Rule to Show Cause, citing the County’s own jail population numbers.
The parties then began to explore and implement methods of reducing overcrowding, including hiring a jail management expert, a mediation/workshop convened with all key stakeholders led by a federal judge, and a judicial task force. But the efforts failed, and the jail has remained overcrowded.
Significantly, many people are incarcerated in the jail for the simple reason that they cannot afford to pay their bail. “One way to come into compliance would be to reduce bail amounts across the board,” said Dante P. Trevisani, Executive Director of FJI. “We urge Brevard County to do so not just as a way of complying with the Decree, but so that people are not locked up simply because they can’t afford to pay for their release.”
The case is Tillman v. Miller, Case No. 6:83-cv-00199-LRH in the Middle District of Florida. For more information, contact Ray Taseff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 786-342-6919.