Smart Justice for a Safer Florida

Smart Justice Facts: Corrections

  • The state’s inmate population has more than doubled since 1990 and almost quadrupled since 1984 – from 26,471 inmates in 1984 to 42,733 inmates in 1990, and then to 102,319 in 2011
  • Only two states, California and Texas, incarcerate more of their residents
  • In recent years, only one state (Pennsylvania) had a larger increase in its prison population than Florida, while more than half the states saw their prison populations decline
  • In 2010-2011, seven out of 10 prison admissions were for non-violent offenses
  • Almost half of new prison inmates will serve terms of two years or less, and 83% of these admissions are for non-violent offense
  • Almost one-third of released inmates return to prison, and almost two-thirds are re-arrested within three years. Among inmates released in 2007 or 2008
      • Re-arrested (total): 64%
      • Re-arrested (felony): 47%
      • Re-arrested (violent felony) 11%
      • Returned to prison (total) 31%
      • New prison sentence 28%
      • Returned to prison or  39% new sentence to probation
  • While almost every state increased the length of inmates’ stay between 1990 and 2009, no state exceeded the 166% increase in time served (from 1.1 years to 3.0 years) recorded in Florida.
  • Among non-violent offenders, 14% of low-risk Florida prisoners released in 2004 could have been safely released after serving from three months to two years less time behind bars. This would have reduced Florida’s prison population by 2,640 inmates, or almost 3% of the state’s average daily prison population.
  • Admissions for violent felonies have remained relatively constant since 1996, but an increase in admissions for non-violent offenses accounts for much of Florida’s prison growth.
      • Annual prison admissions for violent offenses have remained steady at approximately 11,250. Increases in admissions for property and drug offenses, as well as probation violations and other offenses, has pushed total admissions from under 22,500 in 1996 to above 33,750 every year since 2006.
  • In the past two years, almost 10,000 Floridians have been admitted to prison for a violation of probation. Three-quarters of the underlying offenses were non-violent crimes.
  • Only 3% of individuals admitted to the Florida Department of Corrections for a violation of probation in FY 2010 and FY 2011 had their probation revoked for a new violent felony.