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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 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 nonstate 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, 21.8% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2008-2009 . An additional 25.9% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Nearly five percent (4.8%) were sentenced to community control, and almost half to probation (46.7%), including drug offender probation, administrative probation, and regular probation. About one percent (0.8%) of offenders were sentenced to“other” sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2007-2008 , 20.4% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 27.1% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than five percent (4.6%) were sentenced to community control, and
    46.9% to probation. Only 1.0% of the offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions (Table 1).

  • More than three-quarters of the 90,080 Code scoresheets with sentence date in FY2008-2009 examined (68,316 scoresheets or 75.8%) 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 FY2007-2008, there were 75,074 (77.1%) offenders scoring 44 points or less (Table 1).

  • For FY2008-2009, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 61.2% were sentenced to state prison, with another 11.7% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 9.3% were sentenced to state prison, and 30.5% to county jail/time served. For FY2007- 2008, 60.7% of the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state
    prison and another 13.0% of these offenders were sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 8.5% were sentenced to state prison, and 31.2% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).

  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction increased almost two percent from 20.4% in FY2007-2008 to 21.8% in FY2008-2009 . County jail sanctions decreased from 27.1% in FY2007-2008 to 25.9% in FY2008-2009. Community Control sanctions increased from 4.6% in FY2007-2008 to 4.8% in FY2008-
    2009 (Table 1).

  • Statewide, 67.7% of offenders (13,325 out of 19,674) receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction. Table 2 presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2007-2008 and FY2008-2009 by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2008-2009 , Circuit 11 (Miami) had the highest percentage (93.0%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while Circuit 4 (Jacksonville) 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 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 35 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 FY2007-2008 and FY2008-2009 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 FY2007-2008 and FY2008-2009 , 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 FY2007-2008 to FY2008-2009 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 FY2007-2008 to FY2008-2009 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 56.3% for FY2007-2008 and 55.6% for FY2008-2009. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 38.4% for FY2007-2008 and 37.9% for FY2008-2009 (Table 11).

  • For the offenders that received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 23.9 months during FY2007-2008 and 22.9 months during FY2008-2009 (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 2007-2008 Sentence Dates1 FY 2008-2009 Sentence Dates2
22.0
Points or
Less
22.1 to
44.0
Points
More than
44.0
Points
Total 22.0
Points or
Less
22.1 to
44.0
Points
More than
44.0
Points
Total
State Prison 1,230 5,150 13,530 19,910 1,204 5,145 13,325 19,674
3.4% 13.2% 60.7% 20.4% 3.9% 13.8% 61.2% 21.8%
Community Control 997 2,234 1,203 4,434 872 2,152 1,273 4,297
2.8% 5.7% 5.4% 4.6% 2.8% 5.8% 5.8% 4.8%
Probation 23,160 18,009 4,507 45,676 19,914 17,625 4,491 42,030
64.1% 46.3% 20.2% 46.9% 63.9% 47.4% 20.6% 46.7%
County Jail 10,416 13,022 2,903 26,341 8,910 11,911 2,551 23,372
28.8% 33.4% 13.0% 27.1% 28.6% 32.0% 11.7% 25.9%
Other 336 520 154 1,010 245 338 124 707
0.9% 1.3% 0.7% 1.0% 0.8% 0.9% 0.6% 0.8%
Total 36,139 38,935 22,297 97,371 31,145 37,171 21,764 90,080
100.0% 100.0% 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, 2006.
2 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2007.

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

For FY 04-05 and FY 05-06, State Prison 53.3% and 55.9%, Community Control 5.8% and 5.1%, Probation 23.6% and 23.2%, County Jail 14.5% and 15.1%.
*Total points greater than 44.