The practices Florida doctors and pharmacies may be leading to an increase in out of state residents in the criminal justice system. The so-called pill mills may be responsible for a rise in possession and drug trafficking charges leveled at residents of Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and other nearby states. The proliferation of pain clinics and supposed ease of acquiring oxycodone and other painkillers and sedatives is accused of drawing a different kind of tourist to South Florida.

The number of registered pain clinics in Broward County and Palm Beach County has made it a focus for state and federal drug crime officials. Anecdotal evidence points to a spike in arrests for residents of Kentucky and Tennessee, particularly. Florida does not specifically track the number of drug charges involving out of state residents, but the impact is clear. The criminal justice system may be overburdened by the increased number of charges faced by non-Floridians.

Basically, the taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of processing these cases. It is a cost that is difficult to quantify. From the cost of additional law enforcement, to the more direct cost of housing and prosecuting those accused of drug crimes, it is clear that the total bill is not insignificant. With so many cases involving drug trafficking and the pain mills, the system will have to find a way to manage these cases.

The out of state residents who are being accused, dubbed “pillbillies,” are pushed through a system that is already stretched to its limits. If the numbers are as bad as officials claim, mistakes will inevitably be made in addressing the individual situations.

Source: Sun Sentinel, “Pillbillies’ who come to South Florida for drugs, stay and commit crime,” Tonya Alenez, 16 May 2011

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