The following graphs depict the overall success of the substance abuse community-based programs. The first graph details the felony adult drug arrests over the last fourteen years. It shows the arrest increase leading up to the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in 1989. The crack cocaine epidemic caught both law enforcement and corrections by surprise, and the department did not have a strategic plan in the late 80s to address the situation. In 1991, the Legislature passed the "Community Corrections Partnership Act". The act was an effort to provide funding for treatment both in the community and increased funding inside the "fence" for substance abuse programs.
The second graph depicts the drug admissions to community supervision over the last twelve years. Again, it shows the rise of the crack cocaine crisis in the late 80s and the leveling off and small increase of drug admissions to community supervision through the 90s.
The final graph in this series shows similar trends leading up to the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in fiscal year 89-90. In fiscal year 89-90, 36.1 percent of all admissions to prison were admitted for a drug-related crime. Over 16,000 inmates walked through the gates with a drug charge as the primary offense. Some of these inmates were recommitted two and three times during the same year because they were released early by the "Control Release Authority" (Parole Commission). They were considered low risk offenders in comparison to the prison population. In some cases, violent offenders were released early to make room for the new admission of a non-violent drug offender. This criminal justice policy clearly made no sense.
With creation of the "Community Corrections Partnership Act" in 1991, the Florida Legislature recognized that it was necessary to provide both outpatient and residential substance abuse program funding for community corrections. Since the inception of substance abuse funding, which has basically increased through the fiscal years of 1991 to 1998, there has been a rather significant reduction of prison admissions for drug crimes. With the rapid advent of circuit drug courts, state funding, and county funding, community corrections substance abuse programs have had a significant impact on the number and percentage of inmates admitted to prison with a drug conviction as their primary offense. Over 50% of offenders who receive treatment program sanctions from the felony court are never re-arrested and sentenced to prison for a felony drug crime.
There are two main factors for this reduction. The primary reason for reduction was the implementation of many outpatient and residential programs detailed in this report. The secondary reason can be attributed to increased prison construction during the 90s, and the continuous funding of prison-based substance abuse programs. The end result of this balanced criminal justice policy is that non-violent drug offenders are primarily being treated in the community and violent inmates are now serving at least 85 percent of their sentence.
The last fiscal year (97-98), only 24.4 percent of all admissions to prison had a drug charge as their primary offense, which was slightly more than 5,000 inmates. This was down from over 16,000 inmates in fiscal year 89-90. Although felony adult drug arrests and drug admissions to community supervision have remained fairly constant during the last six years, drug admissions to prison have decreased dramatically, thereby saving valuable prison beds for violent and predatory offenders. It is vital that the Florida Legislature continues to provide funding for community-based programs and funding for a balanced criminal justice policy. Community-based outpatient programs operate at a fraction of the cost of new prison construction and extant prisons. Also, over the last eight years, residential treatment programs have proven to be very cost effective when compared to prison.