Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Florida Is Number One - In Prison Sentences

Another one of those damn studies:

From the press relase:

TALLAHASSEE — Thanks to its gung-ho approach to lengthening jail time, Florida led the charge in beefing up prison sentences during the past two decades at a taxpayer cost of more than $1 billion a year, according to a new study by the Pew Center on the States.

What else does it say?

In 2009 prisoners served an average of nine more months in custody — 36 percent longer — than offenders released in 1990.

Incarceration rates are the highest in the Southeast.


The Sunshine State led the nation in lengthening prison sentences under both Democratic and Republican governors.

Drug-related sentences climbed 194 percent during the study period, from 0.8 years on average to 2.3 years. Sentences for violent crimes grew 137 percent, from 2.1 years to 5 years. Sentences for property crimes such as burglary, breaking and entering, and vehicle theft grew 181 percent, from 0.9 years to 2.7 years on average.

As a result, the average prison time served grew by 166 percent and cost taxpayers $1.4 billion in 2009. The 36,678 Florida prisoners released in 2009 served an average of 22 months longer and cost taxpayers $38,477 more per prisoner than those released in 1990, the study determined.

More conservative states around us have taken note of the cost:

Indeed, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal last month signed a reform reducing jail time for nonviolent criminals that is expected to save the state $264 million over five years. And Louisiana passed legislation that expands parole eligibility for repeat offenders and nonviolent ones serving life sentences; expands the state's re-entry courts; and allows courts to waive mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders.

We were going to do something - reduce prison time for non-violent drug offenders who entered substance abuse programs.

But Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the legislation, saying Florida's tough sentences had reduced crime rates and that "justice … is not served when a criminal is permitted to be released early from a sentence imposed by the courts."

Governor Scott said this legislation was insensitive to victims.

Victims of non-violent drug offenders. I'd like to talk to some of them, whoever they are.

At least the beaches are nice.

Non-anonymous comments welcome. Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Share/Save/Bookmark rules Post to Twitter