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

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Part III: 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 fewer 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 fewer 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 921.0026 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, 17.4% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2003-2004. An additional 24.7% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Nearly seven percent (6.6%) were sentenced to community control and over half to probation (50.1%), including drug offender probation, administrative probation and regular probation. Approximately one percent of offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2002-2003, 17.7% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 22.6% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than eight percent (7.6%) were sentenced to community control and 51.4% to probation. Only 0.8% of the offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions (Table 1).
  • More than three-quarters of the 88,211 Code scoresheets with a sentence date in FY2003-2004 examined (68,300 scoresheets or 77.4%) scored 44 points or fewer (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 FY2002-2003, there were 65,529 (75.7%) offenders scoring 44 points or fewer (Table 1).
  • For FY2003-2004, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 55.4% were sentenced to state prison, with another 12.7% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 6.4% were sentenced to state prison and 28.2% to county jail/time served. For FY2002-2003, fifty-four percent of the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state prison and another 11.7% of these offenders were sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 6.1% were sentenced to state prison and 26.0% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).
  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction decreased slightly from 17.7% in FY2002-2003 to 17.4% in FY2003-2004. Conversely, county jail sanctions increased from 22.6% in FY2002-2003 to 24.7% in FY2003-2004. Community supervision sanctions decreased from 7.6% in FY2002-2003 to 6.6% in FY2003-2004 (Table 1).
  • Statewide, 71.7% of offenders receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction. Table 2 presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2002-2003 and FY2003-2004 by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2003-2004, Circuit 20 ( Ft. Myers) had the highest percentage (87.5%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while Circuit 19 ( Ft. Pierce ) has the lowest (52.6%).
  • 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 sanctions imposed by circuit and county. Although variance in sentencing does exist at the circuit and county level based on the judge involved, variability in the statistics presented in this table could also be 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 (Table 3).
  • In both FY2002-2003 and FY2003-04 the majority of violent offenders received a state prison sanction (Table 4).
  • The percentage of burglary and drug offenders receiving a state prison sanction decreased from FY2002-2003 to FY2003-2004 (Table 4).
  • As would be expected, scoresheets with the highest offense severity levels received a state prison sanction, those with the lowest received probation, and community control fell in the middle with the majority having levels 3 through 6 (Table 5).
  • Consistently in FY2002-2003 and FY2003-2004, for offenders sentenced to state prison, the majority with offense severity levels of 1 through 5 received less than two years and those with offense level 10 received more than ten years (Table 6).
  • From FY2002-2003 to FY2003-2004 the percentage of scoresheets with no prior record decreased while those with prior misdemeanors increased. The percentage with four or more felonies remained constant (Table 7).
  • Similarly, from FY2002-2003 to FY2003-2004 the percentage of scoresheets with no additional offenses decreased while those with misdemeanors increased. The percentage with four or more felonies remained constant (Table 8).
  • 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. 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 59.2% for FY2001-2002 and 56.8% for FY2003-2004. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 45.2% for FY2001-2002 and 42.8% for FY2003-2004 (Table 11).
  • For the offenders that received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 24.8 months during FY2002-2003 and 25.0 months during FY2003-2004 (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 F.S. 921.0026. 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 2002-2003
Sentence Dates
1
FY 2003-2004
Sentence Dates
2
44.0 Points or fewer More than 44.0 Points Total 44.0 Points or fewer More than 44.0 Points Total
State Prison 3,995 11,342 15,337 4,358 11,029 15,387
6.1% 54.0% 17.7% 6.4% 55.4% 17.4%
Community Control 4,592 1,961 6,553 4,286 1,527 5,813
7.0% 9.3% 7.6% 6.3% 7.7% 6.6%
Probation 39,311 5,128 44,439 39,460 4,704 44,164
60.0% 24.4% 51.4% 57.8% 23.6% 50.1%
County Jail 17,063 2,463 19,526 19,276 2,522 21,798
26.0% 11.7% 22.6% 28.2% 12.7% 24.7%
Other 568 102 670 920 129 1,049
0.9% 0.5% 0.8% 1.3% 0.6% 1.2%
Total 65,529 20,996 86,525 68,300 19,911 88,211
100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

1Offense dates on or after October 1, 2001.
2Offense dates on or after October 1, 2002.



Sanction Imposed for Offenders Scoring in the State Prison Sanction Category
*Total points greater than 44.