The Florida Department of Corrections houses 102,000 inmates in its 63 state prisons (including seven private prisons) costing taxpayers nearly $2.4 billion. The growth in the prison population is not attributable to Florida’s overall population growth. From 1970 through 2009, Florida experienced significant growth – a 2.7-fold growth in its population. But during that same period, the prison population grew 11.4-fold.
Currently, one in 31 adults is under some form of correctional control. The state’s incarceration rate is 26 percent higher than the national average, and it has the third-largest correctional system in the nation after California (174,000) and Texas (155,000). If Florida were to incarcerate people at the same rate as in FY1972-73 (126.8 per 100,000), the state’s prison population would be 23,848, at a cost of $446 million instead of the nearly $2.4 billion Florida spent in FY2010-11.
Additionally, Florida’s recidivism rate is about 33%, which means one out of every three inmates released from a Florida prison returns to prison in Florida within three years. (This does not include the number of inmates who also return to county jails, federal prisons, or prisons in other states.) This 33% recidivism rate within 3 years of release increases to 65% after five years.
It costs an average of $53.34 per day or $19,469 per year to house an inmate in a Florida prison, and Floridians pour nearly $3 billion a year into the state’s overall corrections system. However, with a crippling $3.75 billion budget gap, there is a renewed effort to address the inefficiencies in government—including the corrections system.
“With our state facing a $3.75 billion budget shortfall this year and the cost of the corrections budget increasing, now is the time for reform,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO, Florida TaxWatch. “Now is the time for smart justice reforms that reduce crime while saving money.”
On Tuesday, March 22, 2011 the Right on Crime campaign launched in Florida with support from former state Attorney General Richard Doran, Dominic Calabro of Florida TaxWatch, Bob McClure of the James Madison Institute, former Monroe County Sheriff Allsion DeFoor, and Barney Bishop, the President and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida. In September of 2011, former Florida governor Jeb Bush signed onto the ROC statement of principles and has continued to be a driving force for the Florida initiative.
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