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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Comparative Description

NOTES: This section examines the sentencing parameters point values, as follows:
  • The Criminal Punishment Code allows for a non-state prison sanction for offenders scoring 44.0 or less total points.
  • The Code mandates state prison as the sanction, unless the sentence is mitigated, for all those offenders whose total points exceed 44.0. This means that only those offenders scoring 44 or less points may receive a non state prison sanction under the Code. All others must receive a state prison sanction, absent downward departure from this structure.
Florida Statute 921 allows for circumstances or factors that reasonably justify the downward departure of Guidelines/Code scoresheet.

In addition, on January 24, 2002 the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in Jones v. State that Section 948.01(3) F.S. (supp. 1998), which allows for the sanction of drug offender probation in the case of a chronic substance abuser, provides an alternative sentencing scheme for drug offenders that is outside the Code. It was ruled that the trial court had the discretion to sentence the defendant to drug offender probation even though the Code mandated prison time.

Actual sanctions imposed, including state prison, community control, probation, county jail/time served, and other sanctions are presented and compared to the categories listed above.

FINDINGS:

  • Across the state, 17.1% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2001-2002. An additional 21.6% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Nearly eight percent (7.9%) were sentenced to community control, and over half to probation (53.0%), including drug offender probation, administrative probation, and regular probation. Less than one percent of offenders were sentenced to "other" sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2000-2001, 17.4% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 23.9% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than nine percent (8.4%) were sentenced to community control, and 49.8% to probation. Only 0.5% of the offenders were sentenced to "other" sanctions (Table 1).

  • Almost eight out of ten of the 76,468 Code scoresheets with sentence date in FY2001-2002 examined (59,138 scoresheets or 77.3%) scored less than 44 points (Table 1). These scoresheets represent sentencing events where the judge has the discretion to sentence the offender to either a non-state prison sanction or a state prison sanction. If the judge chose to sentence the offender to state prison, the judge had the discretion to sentence the offender up to the statutory maximum of the law. For scoresheets with sentence dates in FY2000-2001, there were 66,513 (76.1%) offenders scoring less than 44 points (Table 1).

  • For FY2001-2002, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 55.6% were sentenced to state prison, with another 10.2% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, just below 6% were sentenced to state prison, and 24.9% to county jail/time served. For FY2000-2001, over fifty-four percent if the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state prison (54.4%) and another 9.9% of these offenders were sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 5.8% were sentenced to state prison, and 27.6% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).

  • Table 2 presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2000-2001 and FY2001-2002 by the circuit and sanction imposed. Circuit 2 (Miami) shows the highest percentage of scoresheets scoring to and receiving the state prison sanction at 90.9% and 90.4%, respectively. Circuit 4 (Jacksonville) has the lowest percentage of state prison scoring offenders, with 53.3% for FY2000-2001 and 56.3% for FY2001-2002.

  • Incarceration rates vary greatly by county and circuit. Jail sanctions also vary greatly depending on the number of beds available and judicial inclination to use the jail sanction. Table 3 presents the distribution of sanction imposed by circuit and county. Although variance in sentencing does exists at the circuit and county level based on the judge involved, variability in the statistics presented in this table could also be as a result of differences in the type of offenders being sentenced around the state. There are also very small numbers of scoresheets for some of the counties listed in this table. The incarceration rates for counties with less than 100 scoresheets could possibly be misleading.

  • Within the Code policy, a true mitigation occurs when an offenders scores more than 44 total points and either receives a non-state prison sanction (except drug offender probation) or a state prison sentence length below the 25% permissible discretion. A sanction mitigation occurs when an offender scores more than 44 total points, but receives a non-state prison sanction (except drug offender probation).

  • The true mitigation rate for offenders that scored more than 44 total points is 58.2% for FY2000-2001 and 57.8% for FY2001-2002. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 45.6% for FY2000-2001 and 44.4% for FY2001-2002 (Table 11).

  • For the offenders that received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 64.7 months during FY2000-2001 and 24.6 months during FY2001-2002 (Table 11).

  • Departure, as defined here, is not a comment on the legality of the sentence. There are many reasons for departure which are recognized as legitimate under Florida Statute 921. In addition, other Statutes, such as F. S. 948.034, establish special conditions allowing for departures from recommended sentences. Database limitations do not allow us to isolate all these reasons for departure.

Table 1 Recommended Sanction Category by Sanction Imposed

Sanction Imposed Recommended Sanction Category
FY 2000-2001 FY 2001-2002
44.0 Points or Less More than 44.0 Points Total 44.0 Points or Less More than 44.0 Points Total
State Prison 3,890
5.8%
11,324
54.4%
15,214
17.4%
3,416
5.8%
9,627
55.6%
13,043
17.1%
Community Control 5,237
7.9%
2,064
9.9%
7,301
8.4%
4,406
7.5%
1,598
9.2%
6,004
7.9%
Probation 38,699
58.2%
4,837
23.2%
43,536
49.8%
36,267
61.3%
4,274
24.7%
40,541
53.0%
County Jail 18,325
27.6%
2,528
12.1%
20,853
23.9%
14,714
24.9%
1,772
10.2%
16,486
21.6%
Other 362
0.5%
82
0.4%
444
0.5%
335
0.6%
59
0.3%
394
0.5%
Total 66,513
100.0%
20,835
100.0%
87,348
100.0%
59,138
100.0%
17,330
100.0%
76,468
100.0%

 

Sanction Imposed for offenders scoring in the state prison sanction category.