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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

5/25/2017: Mandatory Minimums; Better Speech, Hearing Month; Concert On The Green; Kerry Speckman


Today on “First Coast Connect,” we spoke with Operation New Hope president and CEO Kevin Gay (01:03) on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s order for federal prosecutors to get tougher on drug crimes and how it could triggers more people receiving long terms in prison under mandatory minimum guidelines. Then we then spoke with President and CEO of Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center Mike Howland (34:09) about May being Better Speech and Hearing Month. Concert on the Green President Lauren Hoffman (41:52) stopped by to talk about Sunday’s concert with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and Kerry Speckman (44:20) told us about all the other events this weekend.   

Mandatory Minimums

Florida defendants could soon be looking at much longer terms in prison.  Mandatory sentencing laws for drug users have been controversial for years, and many Republicans as well as Democrats now oppose them as unfair, ineffective and too costly. The new Justice Department policy cancels the Obama administration’s attempts to pull back on harsh sentencing strategies, which had produced a huge growth in prison populations. Critics say the new policy threatens to halt a push for bipartisan criminal justice reform.

Better Speech And Hearing Month  

Howland spoke about why it’s important to get your children’s hearing checked and some warning signs of potential hearing problems. He also spoke about their fundraiser Finfest last Saturday that raised over $155,000. He also talked about the Speech and Hearing Center’s upcoming move in August from Springfield to North Davis Street.    

Concert on the Green and Kerry Speckman

Clay County's Concert on the Green is an outdoor under-the-stars performance by the Jacksonville Symphony. This is the 30th year for this all-volunteer non-profit, which provides scholarships for students in the performing arts and visual arts. The concert is 8 p.m Sunday at St. Johns Country Day School in Orange Park. The concert will be followed by a fireworks display. It’s part of a long Memorial Day weekend of events Kerry Speckman told us about from the Jacksonville Jazz Festival to the opening of the Daily’s Place amphitheater.      

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax