Diverting Low-Risk Offenders from Florida Prisons
Report 19-01, January 2019
- In 2018, Florida had 144 prison facilities, including 50 major institutions housing 96,253 inmates. Florida's inmate population is the third largest state prison population in the United States. The Florida Department of Corrections' total budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 was $2.4 billion, with the estimated cost to house an inmate at $59.57 per day, or $21,743 annually. Over the past 8 years, both admissions to prison and prison population have decreased. However, Florida continues to have the 10th highest incarceration rate in the United States at 500 per 100,000.
- There are multiple points at which offenders can be diverted from the path between arrest and prison, and Florida currently uses many of these diversion programs. Diversion programs include pretrial intervention, plea bargaining, problem-solving courts, and probation. Probation and plea bargaining are the most utilized types of diversion in Florida. Our analysis indicates that there are additional lower-risk offenders who could be diverted from prison, which could likely result in reduced recidivism and long-term cost savings. As such, the Legislature may want to consider various options for diverting additional offenders from prison.
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