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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Sentence Structure Case Analysis

Issue Code: 3000370
Program: Security and Institutional Operations
Title: Sentence Structure Case Analysis
Amount: $257,761
FTE: 5

The department requests funding for 5 positions for the Sentence Structure Unit. This unit is responsible for the audit and legal sufficiency of commitment documents, accuracy of release date calculations, implementation of case law decisions affecting inmate release, grievances on sentence structure data and release date issues, and coordination with and assistance to judicial and criminal justice officials on sentencing issues.

These positions will enhance public safety by ensuring that offenders serve the sentence ordered by the court, ensure proper classification and risk assessment of inmates based on a valid release date and assist in reducing administrative appeals as inmate release dates will be established in a timely manner.

Two positions will be utilized to address current backlogs in commitment auditing. Once backlogs have been eliminated, the positions will become a critical component in ensuring that commitment data is maintained in a current status. Currently, this unit has a backlog of over 22,000 components and receives an average of 7,758 components per month. Components refer to each individual sentence that an inmate must serve. The components may be counts within a case or separate cases. Component receipts have increased 21% over the last 5 fiscal years. Eight employees are assigned to this function and have a standard to audit at least 55 components per day. Without additional positions, sentence data auditing will remain backlogged and the backlog will increase. Persistent backlogs create the potential for release errors. Additionally, with no valid release date computed, inmates cannot be properly classified for custody and housing level decisions. Backlogs have contributed to increased phone calls, e-mail, letters and grievances from inmates, families and judicial officials questioning establishment of the release date.

An additional position is needed to deal with action required by the judicial system transference of court documents. Most documents are received by fax and require immediate attention as the court action is usually indicative of an inmate's imminent release. Many documents are also received on offenders not yet in department custody. Staff must locate the offender in order to place a detainer for the department and monitor the offender's movement until receipt. This section tracks an average of 50 such cases per month ensuring the inmate is not released in error by county officials.

Two additional positions are needed to provide specific sentence data support services. Currently, OPS employees are utilized to provide support services. However, due to the temporary nature of their employment, they are restricted from performing some tasks that must be directed to administrative staff. These positions would be authorized to evaluate and make independent decisions regarding sentence data issues/processes. The duties would include recording of commitment documents, incorporating follow-up paperwork and court orders into the commitment document, determining priorities for cases with early release dates and provision of direct assistance to all auditing staff by communicating with the various courts statewide.

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