Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
The Florida Sheriffs Research Institute released a report Wednesday detailing the history and use of Florida’s Prisoner Release Reoffender Law.
PRR requires judges to hand down maximum sentences for certain felony convictions if the offender commits the crime less than three years after being released from prison. The statute applies to a wide array of crimes, ranging from burglary to air piracy.
According to the new report, “The Prisoner Release Reoffender: Sentencing Repeat Offenders of Violent and Serious Crime in Florida,” about a quarter of former prisoners in Florida commit a crime that lands them back behind bars within three years of being released and 35% do so within five years.
FSRI says the state’s recidivism rate is likely higher if convictions that don’t result in a prison sentence are included.
“It’s important to remember that inmates sentenced to PRR are not first-time, low-level offenders, and Florida is not alone in its efforts to address habitual offenders who repeatedly commit violent and serious crimes. The Prisoner Release Reoffender law is working, and it helps to protect everyone in the Sunshine State,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs the Florida Sheriff’s Association Legislative Committee.
The Florida Legislature passed PRR into law in 1997 and officials predicted it would lead to another 14,000 convicts in state prisons by 2007. However, the FSRI report states that, as of September 2020, there were just 7,459 inmates serving a PRR sentence in state prisons. Meanwhile, the state’s violent crime rate has dropped precipitously over the past two decades.
Levy County Sheriff and Florida Sheriff’s Association President Bobby McCallum said that’s evidence the law is working.
“The Sheriffs of Florida have created proven policies and best practices that have stood the test of time, and many of those have led to our historically low crime level,” he said. “Among those tools are the Prison Release Reoffender law, which keeps the most dangerous repeat offenders off our streets and contributes significantly to public safety.”
Walton County Sheriff and FSRI Committee Chair Michael Adkinson added, “Reverting to outdated policies that allow for releasing habitual offenders early is a first step toward a return of the high crime that sparked Florida’s Legislature to enact the Prison Release Reoffender law in the first place. Mandatory sentence policies targeting the most dangerous, repeat offenders are used in every state, and these policies are a key factor to Florida’s low crime rate.”
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Quote of the Day
“Never did I think that, in 2021, I would still be fighting for the right to make my own choices about pregnancy. But we do it because we know what is at stake. The constitutional right to an abortion must be upheld by SCOTUS and Congress must act to codify these protections, too.” — Rep. Anna Eskamani, on a Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
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