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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