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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, 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, 21.3% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2013-2014. An additional 23.9% 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 (48.9%), including drug offender probation and regular probation.  Less than one percent (0.5%) of offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2012-2013, 22.0% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 23.2% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than six percent (5.6%) were sentenced to community control, and 48.7% to probation.  Less than one percent (0.5%) of the offenders were sentenced to “other” sanctions (Table 1).

  • Almost three-quarters of the 65,397 Code scoresheets with sentence dates in FY2013-2014 examined (47,687 scoresheets or 72.9%) 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 FY2012-2013, there were 51,592 (71.9%) offenders scoring 44 points or fewer (Table 1).

  • For FY2013-2014, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 59.9% were sentenced to state prison, with another 10.8% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring fewer than 44 points, 6.9% were sentenced to state prison, and 28.9% to county jail/time served. For FY2012-2013, 59.8% of the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state prison and another 10.5% of these offenders were sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring fewer than 44 points, 7.3% were sentenced to state prison, and 28.1% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).

  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction decreased slightly from 22.0% in FY2012-2013 to 21.3% in FY2013-2014. County jail sanctions increased slightly from 23.2% in FY2012-2013 to 23.9% in FY2013-2014. Community Control sanction rates decreased slightly from 5.6% in FY2012-2013 to 5.4%  in FY2013-2014 (Table 1).

  • Statewide, 76.3% of offenders (10,603 out of 13,903) receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction in FY 2013-2014. Table 2 presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2012-2013 and FY2013-2014 by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2013-2014, Circuit 11 (Miami) had the highest percentage (93.3%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while Circuit 12 (Sarasota) had the lowest (58.9%).

  • 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 represents 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 fewer than 100 scoresheets could possibly be misleading (Table 3).

  • In both FY2012-2013 and FY2013-2014 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, and those with the lowest received probation (Table 5).

  • Consistently in FY2012-2013 and FY2013-2014, 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 FY2012-2013 to FY2013-2014 the percentage of scoresheets with no prior record or prior misdemeanors remained the same. Those with four to six or more felonies were the same or decreased by no more than a tenth (Table 7).

  • From FY2012-2013 to FY2013-2014 the percentage of scoresheets with no additional offenses increased slightly and those with misdemeanors increased by a percentage point. The percentage with four or more felonies remained relatively constant (Table 8).

Within the Criminal Punishment Code policy, a true mitigation occurs when an offender 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 who scored more than 44 total points is 57.9% for FY2012-2013 and 58.3% for FY2013-2014. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 39.1% for FY2012-2013 and 39.1% for FY2013-2014 (Table 11).

  • For the offenders who received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 25.1 months during FY2012-2013 and 26.7 months during FY2013-2014 (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 2012-2013 Sentence Dates1 FY 2013-2014 Sentence Dates2
44.0
Points or
Less
More than
44.0
Points
Total 44.0
Points or
Less
More than
44.0
Points
Total
State Prison 3,754 12,062 15,816 3,300 10,603 13,903
7.3% 59.8% 22.0% 6.9% 59.9% 21.3%
Community Control 2,594 1,435 4,029 2,301 1,245 3,546
5.0% 7.1% 5.6% 4.8% 7.0% 5.4%
Probation 30,432 4,501 34,933 28,093 3,871 31,964
59.0% 22.3% 48.7% 58.9% 21.9% 48.9%
County Jail 14,505 2,116 16,621 13,741 1,919 15,660
28.1% 10.5% 23.2% 28.8% 10.8% 23.9%
Other 307 69 376 252 72 324
0.6% 0.3% 0.5% 0.5% 0.4% 0.5%
Total 51,592 20,183 71,775 47,687 17,710 65,397
100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
1 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2010.
2 Offense dates on or after October 1, 2011.

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

For FY 12-13 and FY 13-14, State Prison 59.8% and 59.9%, Community Control 7.1% and 7.0%, Probation 22.3% and 21.9%, County Jail 10.5% and 10.8%, Other 0.3% and 0.4%.
*Total points greater than 44.


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