State Initiatives: Florida
The Florida Department of Corrections houses 102,000 inmates in its 63 state prisons (including seven private prisons) costing taxpayers nearly $2.4 billion. The growth in the prison population is not attributable to Florida’s overall population growth. From 1970 through 2009, Florida experienced significant growth – a 2.7-fold growth in its population. But during that same period, the prison population grew 11.4-fold.
Currently, one in 31 adults is under some form of correctional control. The state’s incarceration rate is 26 percent higher than the national average, and it has the third-largest correctional system in the nation after California (174,000) and Texas (155,000). If Florida were to incarcerate people at the same rate as in FY1972-73 (126.8 per 100,000), the state’s prison population would be 23,848, at a cost of $446 million instead of the nearly $2.4 billion Florida spent in FY2010-11.
Additionally, Florida's recidivism rate is about 33%, which means one out of every three inmates released from a Florida prison returns to prison in Florida within three years. (This does not include the number of inmates who also return to county jails, federal prisons, or prisons in other states.) This 33% recidivism rate within 3 years of release increases to 65% after five years.
It costs an average of $53.34 per day or $19,469 per year to house an inmate in a Florida prison, and Floridians pour nearly $3 billion a year into the state's overall corrections system. However, with a crippling $3.75 billion budget gap, there is a renewed effort to address the inefficiencies in government—including the corrections system.
“With our state facing a $3.75 billion budget shortfall this year and the cost of the corrections budget increasing, now is the time for reform,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO, Florida TaxWatch. “Now is the time for smart justice reforms that reduce crime while saving money.”
On Tuesday, March 22, 2011 the Right on Crime campaign launched in Florida with support from former state Attorney General Richard Doran, Dominic Calabro of Florida TaxWatch, Bob McClure of the James Madison Institute, former Monroe County Sheriff Allsion DeFoor, and Barney Bishop, the President and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida. In September of 2011, former Florida governor Jeb Bush signed onto the ROC statement of principles and has continued to be a driving force for the Florida initiative.
Bill Reforming Florida’s Juvenile Justice System Has Some Calling For More Reform
Bob McClure, ROC signatory and president of the James Madison Institute, “applauds the effort” of Florida’s bill to reform juvenile justice, but believes that more can be done. “We feel it important to codify the principles and practices borne out by research in Florida’s juvenile justice program that saves money and ensures positive outcomes for [...]:: Read More
James Madison Institute “A Tale of Two States”
On September 24, The James Madison Institute hosted a forum in partnership with The Florida State University’s Project on Accountable Justice and St. Petersburg College Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to discuss what Florida can learn from Georgia’s successful juvenile justice reforms. The public forum was titled “A Tale of Two Cities: What Can Florida Learn From [...]:: Read More
Reason Magazine mentions our work
This morning on Fox News Sunday Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave his most extensive answer yet on how he feels about U.S. drug laws. The short version: He doesn’t endorse legalizing drugs, but he also doesn’t want to lock up nonviolent offenders for “extended periods of time.” All that said, there’s another way to look at [...]:: Read More
The Conservative Case Against More Prisons
Our policy experts Vikrant Reddy and Marc Levin wrote an excellent piece recently for The American Conservative magazine. It’s entitled, “The Conservative Case Against More Prisons” and appeared in the latest issue of the magazine. Here is an excerpt: There are other ways to hold offenders—particularly nonviolent ones—accountable. These alternatives when properly implemented can lead [...]:: Read More
Florida Seeks to Increase Juvenile Diversions
Across Florida, municipalities are saving millions and keeping youth who do not need formal processing out of the system through the use of civil citations. Civil citations are eligible only for youth who have committed a misdemeanor or local ordinance violation, and involve supervision, treatment, and…:: Read More
Event in St. Pete – Does Incarceration Reduce Crime?
If you live in the Tampa/St. Pete area, please join us for this upcoming event! Prison Forum #1 – Does Incarceration Reduce Crime? Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 6-8 PM St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus Digitorium (UP 160) 9200 113th Street N, Seminole, FL Researchers have struggled with the relationship between crime and a host of [...]:: Read More
Engulfed by Environmental Crimes
The Texas Public Policy Foundation recently released a report on overcriminalization which I co-authored with my Right On Crime colleague, Marc Levin. The report, titled Engulfed by Environmental Crimes: Overcriminalizaton on the Gulf Coast, has received some attention across the internet after…:: Read More
Florida Could Limit Prison Growth by Turning to its Drug Courts
The first drug court in the United States was formed in Miami-Dade County in 1989. Since then, Florida has increased that number to 106 drug courts, with at least one in every judicial circuit. In 2011, drug courts in Florida saw about 10,000 participants.:: Read More
Tampa Targets Juvenile First-Timers
Just six years ago, Hillsborough County and its county seat, Tampa, led the state in the number of juveniles arrested for nonviolent or minor offenses. County commissioners were dismayed by not only the costs this created for their court system, but also…:: Read More
Sentencing Serious Juvenile Offenders
An interesting new report released on Michigan juvenile offenders reveals that most states do not use juvenile life-without-parole (“JLWOP”) sentencing. The few that do use it, however, use it often.:: Read More
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