Tampa Democratic state Rep. Dianne Hart has again filed “gain-time” legislation that would allow some prison inmates to reduce their sentences through rehabilitation programs.
Calling the state’s criminal justice system “outdated,” Hart filed a proposal this week (HB 115) that would allow non-violent offenders to reduce their mandatory time served from 85 percent to 65 percent through their successful completion of academic and other learning courses while incarcerated. Gain time does not apply to sexual offenders or to those imprisoned without the possibility of parole.
Hart has sponsored a version of this bill since her first term in the House in 2019, but it’s been opposed by law enforcement agencies such as the Florida Sheriffs Association over the years and therefore never made it out of committee to the House floor for a vote.
That’s despite a 2019 report from the Criminal Justice Estimating Conference predicting that five years after lowering the threshold to 65 percent for non-violent offenders, the state would see a reduction of 7,266 inmate beds and cost savings of $441 million.
That same report found that Florida ranks among the minority of states that require non-violent offenders to serve the same percentage of time as those with violent offenses.
“I sincerely believe that by providing inmates with educational opportunities we will be able to tackle many issues that are plaguing our correctional system,” Hart said in a written statement.
“This bill was drafted with the input of those formerly and currently incarcerated and their families. This bill would not only provide an incentive for inmates to gain education while incarcerated, but will reduce our prison population substantially, thus making our correctional facilities safer for both officers and inmates. “
Gainesville Republican state Sen. Keith Perry sponsored a proposal in the 2022 session that would have lowered the threshold to 75 percent for non-violent offenders, but that bill died in committee.
“Gain-time” is defined by the Florida Department of Corrections as the opportunity for an inmate to receive a reduction in his or her overall sentence as imposed by the court.
The department is the third largest prison system in the country with nearly 81,000 inmates as of March 2022, according to the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.
In her press release, Hart says that the bill is needed because the state’s correctional facilities “are overcrowded with inmates, causing unsafe environments for our officers and staff. Some facilities are understaffed to dangerous levels, leaving one officer to supervise more than 100 inmates at a time.”
So is “non-violent” the burglars, drug dealers, shoplifters, catalytic converter thieves, etc.? Sure, turn them loose…in Russia!
David w simmons says
Everyone second chance deserve a second chance
There may be a balance issue here. Young offenders who have not actually injured anyone but have made some really stupid mistakes in life; usually related to drug abuse and/or unresolved mental health issues, should have SOME light at the end of the tunnel that is not a freight train coming back at them.
Some day, they will be returning to our neighborhood. Maybe some encouragement for them to do SOMETHING good with their lives MIGHT help SOME to improve their lives. Otherwise, the only reasonable answer is to give EVERY offender Life without Parole and just forget about them as human beings altogether.
John Yankovich says
If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime!!!!
you are not serving some time for something, only because you havent been caught. yet. point the finger and I hope you say “NEVER”…..
It’s not about doing time, or not doing crimes. There’s people who poorly made bad mistakes. I do agree that there’re some criminals that deserves all the weight of the law, but we have to take in consideration some inmates who really shows that they are changed their mind set.! That’s why we have the classification officers working in prison to check out the inmates behavior.!
Ask an inmate how often they see or talk to their classification officers though and you’ll be wondering why there is even such a position in Florida prisons
Dennis C Rathsam says
The woke democrats here in the state of Fl are clearly enjoying greats ammounts of medical maraquana. Crime is running ramped, & these folks want to let prisoners out early….Why to commit more crime? If you cant do the time, dont do the crime! Florida must not sucum to the woke few, like in other states. We like our safety, thanks to F C S. They have enough to do now, with the currant amount of BOZO,s we have running around.
Al Cahol says
Medical maraquana ? Someone has had one too many Martinies !!!!
Nephew Of Uncle Sam says
“Woke democrats”, ” medical maraquana”? Nice spelling. Might want to sit outside a dispensary around here sometime, many vehicles sporting the losing “president” flags and stickers along with encouragement of NASCAR driver Brandon Brown flags and stickers.
Curtis Ruff says
It’s a down right shame that drug offenders are serving 85% of their prison sentences, especially when all it takes is for a person to be in possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine to receive up to 30 years in prison… The Florida prison system is broken when a person receives more time for drugs than murder and rape. Florida put drug offenders in brackets based on the amount cocaine they are in possession of 28 to 200 grams carry 3 – 30 years, 200 to 400 grams of cocaine carry 7 – 30 years and lastly over 400 grams – to 150 kilo grams carry 15 – 30 years. How can a person with a over a 150,000 grams of cocaine be treated the same as someone with 28 grams, and who are these laws targeting… with windows so big who gets 3 and who gets 30, and lastly is someone with 400 grams really the same as someone with over a 150,000… Things that make you go Hmmm.
VERY well said Curtis Ruff!!!
Dajonna Dennis says
Amen I agree with , Love your comment
I agree with you Curtis..who’s being targeted? The same goes for those in possession of a firearm’s with no prior history of violent crimes or previous sentence.
Judges in the state of Florida have ability after trial to sentence to 38months thru 30 years and in the state of Florida the judges are handing down 30-year sentences with no discretion being shown for a first time offense of being in possession of a fire arm. Meanwhile, murderers, rapist, child molesters are given little or no time at all if they are Caucasian compared to those that are African American!
This is very dis-heartening. Once one of their families go through this same thing..oh, I forgot they never will endure the injustices being imposed on African Americans because that are the privileged Caucasian
Governor Desantis that 65% early release for prison reform is needed this year in 2023! You have received enough campaign funds. LET OUT MEN and WOMEN GO!
K lynne says
Great amounts of medical Marijuana. Currant=current. Perhaps you could benefit from prison,they offer free classes .
Karen L Stuckey says
My husband wouldn’t qualify. He had a seizure while exiting a Sam’s club…that was resisting arrest. You the taxpayers will pay over $750k to incarcerate a man for stealing $97.
Florida Justice system needs an overhaul!
Cinthia Castle says
Overhaul, is understatenent.understatement.. their are people being sentenced to prison without them being guilty or a fair trial because of them so quick to arrest without doing research first. Then on top of it all, they can say or do whatever they want to make a person defenseless in the short amount of time they get to defend themselves.. how about the why these crimes if they were commited..it matters.. sometimes life backs a good person in a corner without a choice and survival is only option given. How about a little more compassion to find the solution not just cover it up with more problems.. their is a solution and it starts with listening.
This is a very profitable business. That’s it. There are people in prison that made a mistake in their lives that cost them their freedom. There are others that are not guilty. Not everyone in there is the same or behave the same. They should reduced their sentence by 65% for well behavior, work and training. Use jails for violent crimes and recurring offenders of violent crimes, rape, murder.
The prison world isn’t much different than the free world in that the people need incentives. Without incentives, or the will to better yourself, then there’s no motivation. You folks want these people back out among us doubly worse off than when they went in? I don’t. You want the various guards and DoC personnel fighting for their everloving lives daily because we choose to demoralize felons? Those same personnel carrying all of that baggage living out here among us? I don’t.
This package allots and requires personal betterment. Education. Skills. In return you get out earlier. Why would anyone have a problem with that? Lemme guess… because perhaps you’re a deplorable miserable uncaring person buying your time in hopes your life never goes sideways at your own fault or not.
Nicole Meadows says
My husband was sensitive years Foste accused of stuff in the prisons that he’s been to are so horrible. They use in old food. Their medical staff sucks. It’s getting bad out there in his presence. Our family isn’t safe even in there anymore. It’s crazy how our governor says he’s going to protect our prisoners in there and this and that and they are being tortured. They are being miss treated and it’s getting ridiculous down here and foot in these presents and 85%. That’s not good enough we need to get it down to 65% so I loved ones that have changed and want to do better get a second chance.
I do agree to that ^^^.. Our love ones do deserve a second chance at life they’re still human they just made poor decisions at that time. Anyone deserves a second chance for one’s that really have changed their life around 360 for the greater good.
Absolutely! I know everyone always says they didn’t do it well my husband really didn’t do everything he was charged with. The police aren’t gonna admit they were wrong so a man that’s never been in trouble is serving 7 years mandatory and his life has been hell since he entered the prison system. From inmates to staff. I just pray to God everyday that something will change.
The dude says
I mean… the violent and really depraved ones seem to use the revolving door at the Flagler county courthouse.
Why not the non-violent?
Also, I don’t understand how a number of ya’ll made it this far in life based on your written communication skills on display here.
I’d say something snarky about being products of this shithole state’s education system, but nobody who lives here is actually from here.
Robert Stewart says
Those convicted of murder where there was no intent involved should have their charges downgraded. The key word being “intent”. In Florida all participants of a fatal mugging are equally guilty of murder. It should be the person in possession of the firearm who is solely responsible for its use.