The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

Corrections in Context

It is essential that the state regularly evaluate components of its justice system to ensure efficient and effective policies and procedures. This half-page-sized pocket guide provides an in-depth examination of Florida sentencing and incarceration over the past two decades.

Summary of Key Findings

  • As the “sentence lag time” increases, so can the cost of housing pretrial defendants in local jails;
  • The majority of offenders sentenced in FY2015 took plea bargains and received sanctions for nonviolent offenses;
  • Judges make use of opportunities to exercise discretion through downward departures, but it only affects a small portion of offenders;
  • Stringent sentencing policies lead to lengthier prison stays and more inmates;
  • Florida’s incarceration rate is declining as the inmate population begins to level-off;
  • Floridians between the ages of 25 and 34 have the highest incarceration rate;
  • Florida prison admission and release rates are in decline;
  • Nonviolent offenders make up over half of yearly prison admissions;
  • Year-and-a-day inmates comprise 7.5 percent of state prison admissions;
  • Florida admits an increasing number of elderly inmates each year, many for nonviolent offenses;
  • Inmates’ education levels entering prison remain low;
  • Florida’s mentally ill inmate population continues to grow, as does the severity of diagnosis;
  • Florida recidivism continues to decline, but lags behind states like Texas;
  • Florida’s corrections budget is relatively constant as a portion of state general revenue;
  • The majority of DOC spending went to institutional operations in FY2016; and
  • Spending per inmate, per day has remained relatively constant.

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