Department of Corrections Fact Sheet: Gomez vs. Singletary Early Release Case
Gomez vs. Singletary is a complex legal case that may result in the possible early release of some inmates from Florida prisons. This fact sheet is offered to provide information to the press and public about this case.
The Gomez case involves a challenge by prison inmates to the denial of overcrowding credits (emergency gain-time, administrative gain-time, provisional credits) for time periods after the control release program became operational in January 1991. The petition was filed in the spring of 1997 after the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Lynce v. Mathis.
The Florida Supreme Court issued its initial opinion in the Gomez case on December 24, 1998. The Court ruled that the enactment of the control release statute and subsequent statutory changes which rendered the inmate petitioners ineligible for overcrowding credits violated the Constitution's ban on ex post facto ("after the fact") laws. Therefore, an offender retains eligibility for overcrowding credits under the laws in effect when he committed his crime. The Florida Supreme Court then ordered the Department of Corrections (DOC) to award overcrowding credits to inmates for time periods during which both DOC and the Florida Legislature had declined to implement these statutes.
DOC filed a request for rehearing on January 8, 1999. On May 20, 1999, the Florida Supreme Court denied the rehearing but approved a more limited relief proposed by DOC than requested by the petitioners. The Florida Supreme Court granted a stay on implementing the decision until June 21, 1999, while DOC and the Attorney General request review by the U.S. Supreme Court. DOC and the Attorney General have requested the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the stay of the decision beyond June 21, 1999, while the high court considers whether to review the case. No relief will be given and no inmate will be released until final disposition by the U.S. Supreme Court and all stays expire.
It is important to remember that the relief does not apply to any offender whose offense was committed on or after June 17, 1993, when the overcrowding statutes administered by DOC were repealed. Additionally, in 1995, the Florida Legislature enacted an 85% service requirement for sentences imposed for offenses committed on or after October 1, 1995. The Gomez decision will not affect any offender serving the 85% sentence requirement.
Possible relief: To receive relief, an offender must be offense eligible under the statutes in effect on the date of the crime and meet all other criteria under the statutes. If eligible under more than one statute, the offender will receive relief only under the most advantageous statute as directed by the Florida Supreme Court. Additionally, an offender may be ineligible to receive an award in any particular month due to failure to earn incentive gain-time or disciplinary action.