Skip navigation.
Home | About Us | Contact Us
Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Time Served by Criminals
Sentenced to Florida's Prisons:

The Impact of Punishment Policies from 1979 to 2004

Time Served - clockface, second hand, DC Seal and percent sign
A report by:
Florida Department of Corrections
James V. Crosby Jr., Secretary
Prepared by:
Bureau of Research and Data Analysis
August 2004

Executive Summary

Florida is tougher on criminals today than any time over the past 25 years. This report reveals data showing that criminals sentenced to prison today will serve significantly longer actual time incarcerated than in the past two decades. An analysis was conducted of 527,762 offenders sentenced to prison from July 1, 1979 to June 30, 2004. Florida has implemented several major changes in the way it sentences felony offenders to prison. Prior to the minimum 85% of sentence served policy, which began in 1995, a prison sentence had minimal relationship to the actual time criminals spent in prison. Parole, early prison release, and significant gaintime earnings resulted in substantially shorter periods of actual incarceration than the current punishment policy.

Report Highlights

  • For all crime types combined, the average prison sentence today will result in 4.0 years of imprisonment, a 150% increase from the 1.6 average in 1988-1989. The percent of prison sentence served is more than 87% for offenders sentenced in FY 2003-2004, a 150% increase from the 34.9% of average sentence served 15 years ago.

  • Violent offenders, on average, will serve 7.1 years in prison today, almost double the 3.6 years in prison 15 years ago.

  • Offenders who commit a Lewd Act on a Child, will spend 5.6 years in prison in FY 2003-2004, more than 2.5 times the average sentence of the all time low of 2.1 years in FY 1986-1987.

  • Armed Robbery offenders will serve an average of 10.1 years in prison under the current punishment policy compared to the twenty-five year low of 2.8 years sixteen years ago.

  • Burglary offenders will serve an average of 4.3 years in prison today, a 291% increase from the 1.1 average 16 years ago.

  • Drug offenders will serve 3.5 years in prison today compared to less than one year 15 years ago.

Table of Contents


  • Changes to Florida's Punishment Policy
Section 1: All Crimes
Section 2: Violent Crimes
  • All Violent Crimes
  • Murder & Manslaughter
  • Sexual Crimes
  • Robbery
  • Other Violent Crimes
  • Assault or Battery on Law Enforcement Officers
Section 3: Property Crimes
  • All Property Crimes
  • Burglary
Section 4: Drug Crimes


Inquiries relating to this report can be directed to:
David Ensley, Bureau Chief (850) 488-1801 or
Special thanks to Abbe Justus for the difficult and complex task of preparing the data for this report and for creating the charts and document production.
Facebook Twitter YouTube

Privacy Policy | Accessibility