More gain time could cut Florida prison population

prison
"Florida locks up too many people for too long.”

The Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform (FLCCJR) says allowing nonviolent offenders to lower their sentences through work could help bring down the state’s prison population.

Florida’s “Truth in Sentencing” law requires convicts to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, meaning an inmate will spend at least 8-and-a-half years in prison if they’re sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

State law also allows inmates to work down their sentence by accumulating “gain time,” which allows inmates to shave 10 days off their sentence per month.

Ways inmates can earn gain time include good behavior, education and educational achievement.

Per the Florida Department of Corrections, an inmate who maxes out on gain time every month during a 10-year sentence would rack up 913 days — about 2-and-a-half years — of credit toward their sentence.

The Truth in Sentencing law would only allow them to use 548 days of those days, however.

A fact sheet put out by FLCCJR says reducing the Truth in Sentencing law from 85 percent to 65 percent for nonviolent offenders would clear out 18,370 inmates — about 18 percent of the state’s 99,485 prisoners.

“Florida’s sentencing structure does not effectively match prison sentence length to public safety needs. Florida locks up too many people for too long,” said Raymer Maguire, campaign manager for the FCCJR.

“If our lawmakers pursued common-sense sentencing reforms, our state could see our prison population drop by 18 percent and it would begin to address the incarceration rates that are driven by flawed policies, like placing counterproductive caps on gain time, not by crimes.

“The reality is we can increase public safety by ensuring that people who are coming back home from prison can access what they need to succeed and contribute to their communities.”

FLCCJR’s fact sheet represents one piece of a larger study conducted by the Urban Institute, which concluded that more than a third of Florida prisoners, if released immediately, wouldn’t reoffend during the balance of their prison sentence.

The SPLC Action Fund and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition concur.

“A majority of Floridians believe the primary purpose of our prison system should be rehabilitation, not punishment,” said Shalini Goel Agarwal, senior supervising attorney for SPLC Action Fund. “Changing the gain time requirements would give incarcerated people who are rehabilitated the opportunity to return home to their families sooner, incentivizing good behavior and making our prisons safer.”

FRRC political director Neil Volz added, “We believe reducing the prison population and creating safer communities can be done at the same time. By working together, and focusing on solutions that work, we can help improve lives, cut costs and make our neighborhoods safer.”

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


3 comments

  • Mike

    March 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    He states: “Florida’s “Truth in Sentencing” law requires convicts to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, meaning an inmate will spend at least 8-and-a-half years in prison if they’re sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

    State law also allows inmates to work down their sentence by accumulating “gain time,” which allows inmates to shave 10 days off their sentence per month.”

    This is not true. How it works is, you have 10 years to serve. You get 10 days of gain-time a month for “Good Behavior”.

    You take the gain-time earned minus 10 years, you get 8.5 years served. That is how it is calculated. You don’t get to serve just 85% and then take additional time off.

    The gain-time is what allows an inmate to get that 85%. If an inmates behavior is not satisfactory, then an inmate will not automatically get out at the 85% but what ever gain-time he has is removed from the 10 years and that is when he gets out.

    So if the inmate has 2 months only of gain time due to bad behavior, then he only gets out 2 months prior to the 10 years. So 9 years and 10 months would have been served.

    They do not get to “double dip” on getting time off their sentence.

  • RON MCANDREW

    March 29, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    It appears that someone in Tallahassee has awakened the intelligent side of matters in terms of that stupid old 85% law. Giving one some light at the end of the tunnel is not just good for the offender, but for staff, the department, the state as a whole. It has always been good behavior that’s sought via the disciplinary process and why not have an antidote?

  • Zoey

    April 4, 2019 at 5:26 am

    When are they going to change the gain time from 85% to 65%. Since they pass the bill

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories