Summary of Recent Legal Decisions Concerning Early Release that Preceded Gomez vs. Singletary
Gwong v. Singletary (Opinion Issued October 10, 1996)
The Department of Corrections requested and Opinion from the Attorney General regarding the propriety of adopting a rule which limits future awards of gain-time for certain class of inmates. Attorney General Opinion 96-22, dated March 20, 1996, advised the Department that in the exercise of its (the department's) statutory grant of discretion the agency may adopt a rule that denies an award of work, extra, and incentive gain-time to such classes of inmates it deemed appropriate when such rule is applied prospectively and will not affect such discretionary gain-time already awarded. Rule 33-11.0065 was amended effective April 21, 1996, to prohibit the earning of discretionary gain-time (work, extra and incentive) to any inmate who had a current or prior conviction for a violent or sexual-related offense, including but not limited to murder, kidnapping, sexual battery (and offenses where sex acts were attempted or completed), lewd & lascivious acts, and aggravated child abuse.
Lynce v. Mathis (Opinion Issued February 19, 1997)
The Lynce decision impacts offenders who committed their crimes prior to June 17, 1993, when s. 944.277, F.S. was repealed, and who received overcrowding credits in the form of administrative gain-time or provisional credits during the existence of those statutes. Although the Lynce decision only addressed the retroactive cancellation pursuant to Attorney General Opinion 92-96 which was based on statutory amendments to s. 944.277, F.S. in 1992, a state circuit court has extended the analysis to apply to s. 944.278, effective June 17, 1993.
Britt v. Chiles (Opinion Issued September 25, 1997, Clarification December 18, 1997)
Based on 1995 legislative changes, s. 944.281, the department adopted an administrative rule effective April 26, 1996, which provided an offender who violated a law, or rule of the department shall not be eligible for discretionary incentive gain-time for up to six months following the month of infraction or law violation. In Britt, the Florida Supreme Court declared the implementation of s. 944.281 unconstitutional for offenders whose offense dates predated October 1, 1995.