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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary


  1. Source of the Data - All of the data for this study was derived from the Florida Department of Corrections database. This information system contains a host of information pertaining to all inmates who were in prison when the data base became active in 1979 and any inmate who has been sentenced to prison since that time.

  2. Population Selected for Study - All offenders who received a new sentence from Florida courts who were admitted to prison from July 1, 1979 to June 30, 2004 were initially selected for this study.

  3. Calculation of Actual Time Served - To measure the actual length of time offenders sentenced to prison are incarcerated, the prison release date for all admissions was identified. The number of days from sentence imposition to release was then calculated. The time spent in local jail is included in the actual length of time served because it is, by law, applied to the service of the offender's court imposed prison sentence. There were some cases (approximately 7%) which had to be eliminated from the analysis due to an inability to accurately calculate prison time served. The reasons for case exclusion include the following:
    • Inmates that returned to custody with a new court sentence after the initial admission prior to the first prison release were excluded (N=20,490). These cases typically occur when an inmate commits a crime while incarcerated and receives an additional sentence concurrent or consecutive to the initial sentence. Additionally, this can occur when a pending criminal case which originated prior to the initial prison sentence results in a court sentence after the initial prison admission. These cases were eliminated because the percentage of sentence served could not be calculated correctly.
    • Inmates with more than one escape event between the initial prison admission and the first release were excluded (N=428). Calculating "out time" when only one escape occurred was possible. However, the time served calculation increased in difficulty and possibility of error when multiple escapes had occurred. There were also 92 escaped inmates that have not returned to custody.
    • Inmates who were transferred out of the state to serve their Florida sentence were excluded (N=2,930).
    • Inmates who had their sentences vacated by the court were excluded from the analysis (N=6,978).
    • Inmates who were released within one day of being admitted were excluded from the analysis (N=2,924). These inmates usually served their entire sentence within the local county jail.

  4. Admissions Not Yet Released From Prison - Many of the inmates admitted during the study period have not yet been released from prison. To calculate their expected time served in prison, their Forecasted Release Date was used. This date is estimated on the department's database by adjusting an inmate's current release date based on their average gaintime earnings over the previous twelve months. This date obviously becomes more accurate as the inmate's release date nears.

  5. Life Table - The prison time served for inmates still in prison with release dates beyond their life expectancy was calculated based on the time from sentence imposition to their expected age at death. A life expectancy table was used for this calculation.

  6. Most Serious Crime Definition - For offender who had multiple convicted charges when sentenced to prison, the most serious crime is identified based on the highest felony degree. If there is more than one offense with the same felony degree, the offense with the longest sentence is considered the most serious. If there are multiple offenses with the same felony degree and the same sentence length, the offense listed first on the commitment papers from the court is considered the most serious offense.

  7. Table on page 1 notes - Sentencing and gaintime policies are effective based on the date an offender commits a crime. Therefore, during any given fiscal year, it is typical that more than one policy will be in place for all prison sentences. However, the fiscal years are grouped in this report based on the primary sentencing and gaintime policy in place during the year of admission to prison. Inmates still in prison with release dates beyond their life expectancy, as calculated based on their expected age at death, were expected to serve 100% of their sentence. Inmates who died, were executed, or who had their sentence commuted by the court were considered to have served 100% of their sentence.

    See the following for more details on Florida's historical sentencing policies: Glover, Bobbie, "How Much Time Will an Inmate Actually Serve?," The Florida Bar Journal, December 1995, (pp. 33-35) or "Historical Summary of Sentencing and Punishment in Florida: 1980 to 1999," Florida Department of Corrections, July 1999

  8. Table 1 notes:
    1. Fiscal Years are from July 1 to June 30;
    2. Median reflects the time served value where 50% of the prison admissions served less than the value and 50% served more;
    3. Sentence lengths of Death, Life, or a term of years greater than their life expectancy was calculated based on the time from sentence imposition to their expected age at death. A life expectancy table was used for this calculation;
    4. The number of cases used to calculate the figures in this table are less than the total admissions due to the inability to calculate time served for all admissions. See Methodology note 3 above.
    5. The number of cases has changed from the previous reports due to inmates being excluded from the calculations for a variety of reasons. Please see Methodology note 3 above.