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

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, 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, 17.2% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2004-2005. An additional 27.4% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Nearly six percent (5.7%) were sentenced to community control and over half to probation (48.3%), including drug offender probation, administrative probation and regular probation. A little over one percent (1.4%) of offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2003-2004, 17.5% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 24.7% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than seven percent (6.6%) were sentenced to community control and 50.0% to probation. Only 1.2% of the offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions (Table 1).
  • More than three-quarters of the 85,659 Code scoresheets with a sentence date in FY2004-2005 examined (66,755 scoresheets or 77.9%) 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 FY2003-2004, there were 68,409 (77.4%) offenders scoring 44 points or fewer (Table 1).
  • For FY2004-2005, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 53.4% were sentenced to state prison, with another 14.9% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 6.9% were sentenced to state prison and 31.0% to county jail/time served. For FY2003-2004, a little over fifty-five percent (55.4%) of the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state prison and another 12.7% of these offenders were 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. (Table 1).
  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction decreased slightly from 17.5% in FY2003-2004 to 17.2% in FY2004-2005. Conversely, county jail sanctions increased from 24.7% in FY2003-2004 to 27.4% in FY2004-2005. Community supervision sanctions decreased from 6.6% in FY2003-2004 to 5.7% in FY2004-2005 (Table 1).
  • Statewide, 68.7% of offenders receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction. Table 2 presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2003-2004 and FY2004-2005 by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2004-2005, Circuit 20 ( Ft. Myers) had the highest percentage (89.4%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while Circuit 19 ( Ft. Pierce ) has the lowest (47.4%).
  • 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 FY2003-2004 and FY2004-05 the majority of violent offenders received a state prison sanction (Table 4).
  • The percentage of burglary offenders receiving a state prison sanction increased slightly from FY2003-2004 to FY2004-2005 (Table 4).
  • The percentage of drug offenders receiving a state prison sanction decreased slightly from FY2003-2004 to FY2004-2005 (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 FY2003-2004 and FY2004-2005, 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 FY2003-2004 to FY2004-2005 the percentage of scoresheets with no prior record and with prior misdemeanors both decreased. The percentage with four or more felonies remained constant (Table 7).
  • Similarly, from FY2003-2004 to FY2004-2005 the percentage of scoresheets with no additional offenses and those with misdemeanors both decreased. 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 57.7% for FY2003-2004 and 59.8% for FY2004-2005. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 43.4% for FY2003-2004 and 45.4% for FY2004-2005 (Table 11).
  • For the offenders that received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 25.0 months during FY2003-2004 and 22.7 months during FY2004-2005 (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 2003-2004
Sentence Dates
1
FY 2004-2005
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 4,377 11,069 15,446 4,608 10,096 14,704
6.4% 55.4% 17.5% 6.9% 53.4% 17.2%
Community Control 4,304 1,532 5,836 3,589 1,287 4,876
6.3% 7.7% 6.6% 5.4% 6.8% 5.7%
Probation 39,480 4,719 44,199 36,861 4,532 41,393
57.7% 23.6% 50.0% 55.2% 24.0% 48.3%
County Jail 19,324 2,533 21,857 20,670 2,810 23,480
28.2% 12.7% 24.7% 31.0% 14.9% 27.4%
Other 924 129 1,053 1,027 179 1,206
1.4% 0.6% 1.2% 1.5% 0.9% 1.4%
Total 68,409 19,982 88,391 66,755 18,904 85,659
100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

1Offense dates on or after October 1, 2002.
2Offense dates on or after October 1, 2003.



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