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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, 23.2% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2009-2010. An additional 23.8% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Five percent (5.4%) were sentenced to community control, and almost half to probation (46.9%), 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 FY2008-2009, 21.9% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 25.9% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than five percent (4.8%) were sentenced to community control, and 46.6% to probation. About one percent (0.8%) of the offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions (Table 1).

  • More than three-quarters of the 81,205 Code scoresheets with sentence date in FY2009-2010 examined (59,063 scoresheets or 72.7%) 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 FY2008-2009, there were 68,339 (75.8%) offenders scoring 44 points or less (Table 1).

  • For FY2009-2010, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 60.8% were sentenced to state prison, with another 11.3% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 9.1 % were sentenced to state prison, and 28.4% to county jail/time served. For FY2008-2009, 61.3% 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, 9.3% were sentenced to state prison, and 30.5% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).

  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction increased almost two percent from 21.9% in FY2008-2009 to 23.2% in FY2009-2010. County jail sanctions decreased from 25.9% in FY2008-2009 to 23.8% in FY2009-2010. Community Control sanctions increased from 4.8% in FY2008-2009 to 5.4% in FY2009-2010 (Table 1).

  • Statewide, 71.6% of offenders (13,464 out of 18,818) receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction. Table 2 presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2008-2009 and FY2009-2010  by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2009-2010, Circuit 11 (Miami) had the highest percentage (92.6%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while Circuit 4 (Jacksonville) has the lowest (50.3%).

  • 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 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 FY2008-2009 and FY2009-2010 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 FY2008-2009 and FY2009-2010 , 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 FY2008-2009 to FY2009-2010 the percentage of scoresheets with no prior record increased, with prior misdemeanors decreased, and with four to six or more felonies increased (Table 7).

  • From FY2008-2009 to FY2009-2010 the percentage of scoresheets with no additional offenses decreased 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 55.5% for FY2008-2009  and 56.1% for FY2009-2010. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 37.8% for FY2008-2009 and 38.2% for FY2009-2010 (Table 11).

  • For the offenders that received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 23.0 months during FY2008-2009  and 24.7 months during FY2009-2010 (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 2008-2009 Sentence Dates1 FY 2009-2010 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 1,204 5,164 13,374 19,742 875 4,479 13,464 18,818
3.9% 13.9% 61.3% 21.9% 3.5% 13.3% 60.8% 23.2%
Community Control 871 2,162 1,277 4,310 768 2,161 1,440 4,369
2.8% 5.8% 5.8% 4.8% 3.0% 6.4% 6.5% 5.4%
Probation 19,881 17,639 4,506 42,026 17,034 16,473 4,603 38,110
63.9% 47.4% 20.6% 46.6% 67.2% 48.9% 20.8% 46.9%
County Jail 8,915 11,923 2,551 23,389 6,529 10,262 2,506 19,297
28.7% 32.0% 11.7% 25.9% 25.8% 30.4% 11.3% 23.8%
Other 243 337 124 704 146 336 129 611
0.8% 0.9% 0.6% 0.8% 0.6% 1.0% 0.6% 0.8%
Total 31,114 37,225 21,832 90,171 25,352 33,711 22,142 81,205
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, 2007.
2 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2008.

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

For FY 08-09 and FY 09-10, State Prison 61.3% and 60.8%, Community Control 5.8% and 6.5%, Probation 20.6% and 20.8%, County Jail 11.7% and 11.3%, Other 0.6% and 0.6%.
*Total points greater than 44.