A new study released by the Pew Center on the States indicates that the time Florida prisoners spend behind bars has grown significantly, according to a NorthEscambia.com report. The report, entitled “Time Served: The High Cost, Low Return of Longer Prison Terms,” examined data from 35 states, which amounted to 89 percent of the prison releases in 2009. Researchers discovered that Florida saw a 166 percent increase in the average prison sentence over the previous 20 years, ultimately costing taxpayers $1.4 billion in 2009.
The study reveals that the average time for drug-related sentences rose 194 percent during the examined 20 year period, increasing from .08 years to 2.3 years. Sentences for violent crimes also increased considerably by 137 percent, specifically from 2.1 years to five years, which was the highest in the study.
Two factors can largely be attributed to Florida leading the country in the length of jail sentences. First, the “Truth in Sentencing Law” enacted in 1995 requires inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. Second, the “10-20-Life Law” establishes mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving firearms.
A companion analysis examined nonviolent offenders released from Florida, Maryland, and Michigan in 2004, and found that some nonviolent prisoners could have been released up to two years earlier and many could have served sentences between three months and two years shorter with no threat to public safety. The analysis notes specifically that 14 percent of all Florida offenders released, 18 percent in Maryland, and 24 percent in Michigan could have served shorter sentences.
At Musca Law, our Florida criminal defense lawyers have the experience and knowledge to defend anyone facing criminal charges and get them the best possible outcome in their case. To discuss your case with us during a complimentary consultation, call (800) 687-2252.