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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 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 921.0026 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, 20.4% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2007-2008. An additional 27.1% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Four percent (4.5%) were sentenced to community control, and nearly half to probation (46.9%), including drug offender probation, administrative probation, and regular probation.  One percent (1.0%) of offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2006-2007, 18.6% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 28.1% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than five percent (4.0%) were sentenced to community control, and 47.9% to probation. Only 1.4% of the offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions (Table 1).

  • More than three-quarters of the 96,773 Code scoresheets with sentence date in FY2007-2008 examined (74,668 scoresheets or 77.2%) scored 44 points or less (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 FY2006-2007, there were 79,043 (78.3%) offenders scoring 44 points or less (Table 1).

  • For FY2007-2008, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 60.6% were sentenced to state prison, with another 13.1% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 8.5% were sentenced to state prison, and 31.3% to county jail/time served. For FY2006-2007, fifty-six percent (56.0%) of the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state prison and another 15.0% of these offenders were sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 8.2% were sentenced to state prison, and 31.8% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).

  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction increased almost two percent from 18.6% in FY2006-2007 to 20.4% in FY2007-2008. County jail sanctions decreased from 28.1% in FY2006-2007 to 27.1% in FY2007-2008. Community supervision sanctions increased from 4.0% in FY2006-2007 to 4.5% in FY2007-2008 (Table 1).

  • Statewide, 67.9% of offenders (13,406 out of 19,733) receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction. Table 2presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2006-2007 and FY2007-2008 by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2007-2008, Circuit 11 (Miami) had the highest percentage (92.4%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while Circuit 19 (Ft. Pierce) has the lowest (49.1%).

  • 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 3presents the distribution of sanction 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 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. (Table 3).

  • In both FY2006-2007 and FY2007-2008 the majority of violent offenders received a state prison sanction. (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 FY2006-2007 and FY2007-2008, for offenders sentenced to state prison, the majority with offense severity levels of 1 through 6 received less than two years and those with offense level 10 received more than ten years (Table 6).

  • From FY2006-2007 to FY2007-2008 the percentage of scoresheets with no prior record decreased, with prior misdemeanors decreased, and with four or six or more felonies increased (Table 7).

  • From FY2006-2007 to FY2007-2008 the percentage of scoresheets with no additional offenses increased and those with misdemeanors decreased. The percentage with four or more felonies remained relatively 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 FY2006-2007 and 56.3% for FY2007-2008. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 42.6% for FY2006-2007 and 38.4% for FY2007-2008 (Table 11).

  • For the offenders that received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 22.9 months during FY2006-2007 and 23.7 months during FY2007-2008 as well. (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 2006-2007 Sentence Date1 FY 2007-2008 Sentence Date2
44.0 Points or Less More than 44.0 Points Total 44.0 Points or Less More than 44.0 Points Total
State Prison 6,499 12,259 18,758 6,327 13,406 19,733
8.2% 56.0% 18.6% 8.5% 60.6% 20.4%
Community Control 2,956 1,123 4,079 3,183 1,192 4,375
3.7% 5.1% 4.0% 4.3% 5.4% 4.5%
Probation 43,240 5,070 48,310 40,951 4,469 45,420
54.7% 23.1% 47.9% 54.8% 20.2% 46.9%
County Jail 25,120 3,296 28,416 23,361 2,890 26,251
31.8% 15.0% 28.1% 31.3% 13.1% 27.1%
Other 1,228 154 1,382 846 148 994
1.6% 0.7% 1.4% 1.1% 0.7% 1.0%
Total 79,043 21,902 100,945 74,668 22,105 96,773
100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
*Total points greater than 44.
1 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2005.
2 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2006.

Figure 1 Sanction Imposed for Offenders Scoring in the State Prison Sanction Category*

Sanction Imposed for Offenders Scoring In the State Prison Sanction Category
Sanction Imposed for Offenders Scoring In the State Prison Sanction Category