Sascha Cordner

Phone: (850) 487-3086  x404

Sascha Cordner worked at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both TV and radio, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications.  She has received several  Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Awards with one of her award-winning stories titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink."  Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU.  Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

A panel of Senators got a series of updates on Florida’s troubled prison system, including the status of use-of-force incidences within the correctional facilities and the inmate health care.

During her presentation to the Senate Criminal justice Committee, newly named Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones detailed some areas she says need improvement.

Two Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill to make it easier for minors to have their records expunged.

Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) says getting a record expunged is particularly problematic for African American youth who want to do things, like get a job, go to school, or join the army—but can’t because of mistakes made when they were younger.

“It puts them in a situation where they become the marketplace for recidivism. And, we want to be able to help to clear their records once they become 18 as opposed to waiting until they’re mid-to-late 20s.”

The two high profile death incidents that occurred in recent months has already spurred a number of changes to Florida’s child welfare agency. That was part of an update two panels in the House and Senate received Thursday as part of a presentation looking at a new law overhauling the agency.

Prison privatization has been a contentious issue in Florida—even costing one Florida Department of Corrections’ Secretary his job. But, after the latest DOC head made some candid remarks on the topic, could she now be backtracking?

The two criminal justice panels of the Florida Legislature are slated to meet Tuesday to take up a number of issues from the state’s troubled prison agency to a gun bill allowing guns on campus.

Newly appointed Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julies Jones is expected to brief the Senate Criminal Justice Committee members about areas where the department is lacking and trying to improve.

As the Florida Legislature returns next week, a bipartisan duo of lawmakers could be looking at making some more changes on top of a new law overhauling Florida’s child welfare agency. It could include changes to the state’s abuse hotline, after the recent tragic death of a five-year-old girl whose father is accused of throwing her over a bridge.

“She was my world. I truly, truly loved her,” said a tearful Michele Jonchuck. “She was an angel. She loved school. She loved to crack jokes. She liked to be helpful to the other children at school.”

Swoope To Depart Enterprise Florida Next Month

Jan 15, 2015

Florida’s top jobs recruiter is stepping down from his post.

At the end of February, Gray Swoope will resign.  He’s the state’s Secretary of Commerce as well as the head of Enterprise Florida, the state’s lead economic development agency.

Swoope was one of the few top officials who served during Governor Rick Scott’s entire first term.

In a statement following Swoope’s announced departure, Scott hailed Swoope for creating “a jobs legacy” and for making “major economic deals” happen for the state.

Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner is asking for close to $20 million in this year’s budget to combat citrus greening. This comes as the most recent forecast is showing a further citrus crop decline.

Following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting,  says citrus growers have it hard.

“We’re in the fight for the industry’s life,” said State Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, following Tuesday's Cabinet meeting. “Florida’s signature crop continues to decline, continues to feel the effects as a result of the spread of citrus greening.”

During their first week back, Florida lawmakers discussed some ways to reform the state’s prison system—currently plagued by allegations of inmate abuse by prison guards and cover ups.

Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker) chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. And, during a recent hearing, he briefed lawmakers on an overview of what’s been going on with the troubled prison system.

Some Florida lawmakers are questioning whether the state’s prison agency plagued by allegations of inmate abuse can be trusted to accurately report suspicious inmate deaths. That issue arose in a Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing Monday.

During the week after New Year’s, Florida lawmakers are slated to come back into Tallahassee for the start of committee weeks. And, on their first day back, one Senate panel is looking at ways to help Florida’s troubled prison system.

First, Senate Criminal Justice Committee members will hear introductory remarks from the panel’s chair: Republican Senator Greg Evers.

An app unveiled by Florida Wildlife officials months ago to combat invasive lionfish has received some upgrades.

“Report Florida Lionfish” app

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says the “Report Florida Lionfish” app has been doing pretty well with thousands of downloads since its May launch. And, she says the users’ experience has now improved.

Florida State University President John Thrasher says his position has not changed since the recent filing of a bill allowing people to open carry on public college and university campuses. It’s the same bill Thrasher helped defeat in 2011 when he was a state senator.

In 2011, the testimony of Dr. Robert Cowie, a friend of Thrasher, also helped derail the bill. Just weeks before, Cowie’s daughter, FSU Student Ashley, had been accidentally shot by a rifle and killed at a frat house.

Governor Rick Scott has chosen a new permanent leader for the Florida Department of Corrections. And, some are calling Scott’s fourth pick for prison chief “a good fit.”

On Wednesday, Scott announced Julie Jones, the former head of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, will lead the state’s troubled prison system.

Governor Rick Scott has officially named a new leader of Florida’s child welfare agency. It’s the third DCF chief Scott has appointed since taking office.

Should the Florida Supreme Court or the state Legislature have the power to shift the burden of proof to a defendant or the state prosecutor in a Stand Your Ground case? That question was recently before the high court as well as the Legislature earlier this year. So, could that come back into play again next legislative session?

The Case Before The Court

A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill requiring law enforcement officers to wear body cameras while out on patrol.

It’s not a coincidence Rep. Shevrin Jones’ (D-West Park) bill was filed after the nationwide debate began over police officers’ use of force, sparked by the fatal incidents in New York and Missouri.

“I know there’s a lot going on as it pertains to Eric Garner, I know the Ferguson situation is going on, a lot is going on, but those incidents’ were not the entire impetus behind the filing of the bill,” said Jones.

Governor Rick Scott kicked off his “Jobs Jamboree” tour in Miami Monday, in lieu of traditional inaugural events.

Instead of an inaugural ball or parade, Scott decided to hold a series of informal barbecues and prayer breakfasts across the state, and he launched the tour Monday—also his 62nd birthday. In a video posted by the Florida GOP, Scott talks, of course, about jobs—a premiere point in his campaign.

Bringing stability and consistency to the troubled Florida Department of Corrections is at the forefront of several lawmakers’ and prison reform stakeholders’ minds as the 2015 legislative session draws near. And, the discussion may start at the top.

That’s especially after Governor Rick Scott still has to name a permanent head to lead the troubled agency—after Scott’s third Florida Department of Corrections’ Secretary recently resigned.

Pension reform will be coming back up in the 2015 legislative session. But, the question some stakeholders are asking is whether a local pension effort will be tied to a controversial  state pension reform plan again, which caused both issues to die earlier this year.

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