Dave Hood: Criminal Justice System Needs Overhaul; Marijuana Legalization ‘On the Table’

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: December 21, 2012 3:55 AM
Rep. Dave Hood, R-Daytona Beach Shores
Dave Hood

Date of Birth: April 24, 1954
Birthplace: Fort Polk, La.
Residence: Daytona Beach Shores
Education: University of South Carolina School of Law, Juris Doctor
Occupation: Attorney
Previous Public Office(s): City of Ormond Beach, Mayor 1994-1999; City of Ormond Beach, City Commissioner 1992-1994
Family: Wife, five children
Did you know? Plays the violin, cello, guitar, and clarinet; terrible at golf. 
The Republican freshman representing the Volusia County coastline is a seasoned attorney with an eye on criminal justice reform. He tells Sunshine State News the entire system needs an overhaul, and that everything -- including the decriminalization of nonviolent drug use -- is on the table.

Dave Hood’s election to the Florida House of Representatives in November – he received 61 percent of the vote in a race the Democrats did not bother to field a candidate for – is not the Daytona Beach Shores attorney’s first foray into public service. He sat on the Ormond Beach City Commission from 1992 to 1994, before going on to serve two terms as mayor, from 1994 to 1999.

Not having come from a political family, he tells the News he decided to run for office after the city of Ormond Beach failed to pass a bond bill, which would have enabled the city to borrow funds for the construction of new facilities for youth and seniors.

“I felt that I could build everything that had been in that bill without raising taxes and without bond money, and everyone laughed at me,” he says.

But the last laugh was his.

“At the end of the day we built every one of those facilities, and we never raised taxes and never borrowed a dollar to do it,” he says of his mayoral term, adding that these are the same governing principles he intends to bring to Tallahassee.

Hood is admittedly big on ideals but short on specifics at this point in the pre-legislative process. He has set for himself a personal deadline of Dec. 30 for the drafting of specific legislation he plans to introduce for the 2013 session.

“You’ve got this situation where you have these states that have had a lot of manufacturing jobs – Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, California – and which have managed to screw up their tax system so badly that we have an opportunity to bring quality economic development to Florida,” he tells the News. “And from that [potential increase in revenue] flows a great deal of the ability to fix the problems we have in criminal justice, to invest the money that needs to be invested in education and make our state the most desirable place to work, live, and play.”

A managing partner at a law firm that deals with criminal justice, and with 30 years of legal practice under his belt, Hood has many friends and associates who are criminal judges, and he has been discussing with them what can be done to reform what he says is a broken system. He hopes to bring some of these suggestions to his colleagues who sit with him on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, to which he has been assigned by House Speaker Will Weatherford.

“In 1988 we were imprisoning close to 111,000 people in state prisons at a cost of $300- to-$400 million; in 2011 we had 110,000 people in those prisons at a cost of $2.2 billion,” he says. “Does anyone truly believe we’re any safer today than we were in 1988? The entire system needs a top to bottom overhaul.”

While he declines to specifically commit to decriminalization of marijuana – whether for criminal or recreational purposes – he tells Sunshine State News that the war on drugs has been, “if we were to grade it, an enormous failure,” and that no proposed solution is above scrutiny.

“I think everything is on the table,” he insists. “You don’t fix the problems with the same thinking that created the problems. We need to look at the overall system and have a fresh viewpoint on it.”

A member of the K-12 Subcommittee, Hood says his efforts there will focus on “analyz[ing] what we’re doing with administrative positions in education, so we can put more of that money in the hands of teachers.”

Hood also sits on the Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, the Health Innovation Subcommittee, and the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee.

Asked to disclose some factoid about himself that is unknown to most pf his associates, Hood reveals his talent for both music and the art of self-deprecation.

“I was given a musicians’ scholarship to go to what we call the Harvard of the South,” he says of his undergraduate college experience. “Some people call it the University of South Carolina.

"I’m a very bad golfer, however. If you watch my swing you have to do everything to keep from vomiting ... but it’s workable.”

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116. 

Comments (6)

11:32AM DEC 29TH 2012
legalize it and tax it. half the country smokes it now for recreational purposes. it was used for thousands of yrs and was legal until freedom loving politicians decided it was bad for you, caused infertility, blindness and made people commit horrible crimes. lol
the real problem is corporations are afraid they wouldn't be able to corner the market and make all the money off it. they make more locking people up for using it.
12:26PM DEC 24TH 2012
Mr. Hood and the geo corp. are gonna sit down and figure out how to do it
1:03PM DEC 21ST 2012
Bravo Mr. Hood! You hit the nail on the head when it comes to penal code revisions for our state's draconian drug laws. However, Florida is also home to some of the most ardent proponents of harsh narcotics laws and enforcement. They have very powerful Tallahassee lobbies i.e. state highway patrol, multiple drug tasks forces, private prison ownership groups, and police fraternal orders. Nevertheless I wish you well and once people hear what you're saying they will wake up and wholeheartedly agree. Start with a simple fine, minor misdemeanor, for simple marijuana possession and reducing drug possessions from felonies to misdemeanors.
Ed Wildman
12:24PM DEC 21ST 2012
Its nice to see another state politician with the courage to say the criminalization of drug use isn't working and we need to look at intelligent alternatives. Countries in Europe and elsewhere that have decriminalized have consistently seen decreases in drug use by all age groups. Hopefully some of this wisdom will start to trickle uphill to the halls of Congress and the White House.
Hugh Yonn
12:15PM DEC 21ST 2012
All card-carrying members of the DEA need to read: Shoulda Robbed a Bank
Here is one of its reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars... If David Sedaris had written 'Catcher in the Rye'..this would be it, June 30, 2012

Amazon Verified Purchase

This review is from: Shoulda Robbed a Bank (Kindle Edition)

I have never smoked pot in my life...nor do I ever care to.
I read about this book in numerous Huffington Post comments. Thought I would read it because I know nothing about marijuana or the people involved with it. I am ecstatic that I did. Funny, Funny, Funny!!!
The chapters are like short stories. Stories about unloading boats with helicopters, close encounters with law enforcement, traveling through the jungles of South America. The chapter about the author's first time smoking marijuana made me feel like I was with him...coughing.
All of the characters were just a group of loveable, nice guys and girls. Not what I had been raised to believe...hysterical maniacs high on pot bent on death and mayhem. They were nothing like that.
If you have ever read any of David Sedaris' books, and like them...you will love Shoulda Robbed a Bank.
And the crazy things happening reminded me of Holden Caufield in 'Catcher in the Rye' and the way he staggered through life.
The way the words are put together are like nothing I have ever heard. I am sure I will use many of the sayings found in this book just to dazzle my friends. A terrific read. I love this book.
Malcolm Kyle
10:11AM DEC 21ST 2012
Maybe you're a police officer, a prison guard, or a local/national politician. Possibly you're scared of losing employment, overtime pay, the many kickbacks, and those regular fat bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies, vats of acid, and marauding thugs carrying gold-plated AK-47s with leopard-skinned gunstocks?

Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem!

Prohibition prevents regulation: legalize, regulate, and tax!

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