The justice system in Florida is overtaxed, to say the least. There are far too many inmates in the prisons, and even more being supervised outside of prison walls. Below, our criminal defense attorneys look at the numbers and how the state is addressing the problem through alternative programs.
In March of 2016, there were 97,521 inmates in Florida’s 151 prisons. At that same time, there were 136,385 prisoners who were not in prison, but under strict community supervision. The state is struggling to keep up.
Does It Matter?
The prisons are severely overcrowded and underfunded according to our criminal defense lawyers. This means the staff is stretched to their limits and the inmates do not always get what they need. The frustrations involved are only building under the pressure of providing safe and clean conditions for prisoners and staff.
Keeping these many people incarcerated in Florida is a very expensive endeavor. While programs exist to help offset some of the expenses, taxpayers carry most of the load. While the inmate is in prison, he is being housed, clothed, fed, educated, trained, entertained, and supervised. While no one suggests it is a good existence, clearly it is not, but it is expensive to provide for and supervise nearly 100,000 people 24/7.
What Alternative Programs Are Currently in Use?
There are a few programs. Some inmates are in cross-programs, meaning more than one. Here are examples of some of the programs in use in the state of Florida today:
Probation is a chance for the inmate to return to society under a strict set of rules. He must hold down a job, pay his fines and fees. He must submit to drug testing if ordered. He will see his probation officer and stay away from people with criminal pasts. He has many other rules to follow. Failure to follow those rules means an immediate return to prison to serve the entire remainder of his sentence. Probation is a privilege, not a right.
- Community Sentencing
This is also known as house arrest. The inmate can live at his residence under rules mandated by the court. This usually means he can leave home to go to work and must return at a set time. He must have permission from the court to leave the house for any other reason. Most of the time, he is required to wear an ankle monitor that will let his probation officer know if he has left the boundaries of his home and that is a reason for immediate arrest and return to prison. Manual and electronic monitoring is intense and there is no room for error. As with probation, this is a privilege, not a right. Every inmate will not be offered this option.
- Training and treatment
Rehabilitation is the primary goal of the justice system. Eventually, most prisoners will be released and we all want them to be better people coming out that they were going in. Some of the training and treatment programs include:
- Drug and alcohol rehabilitation
- Mental health treatment
- Anger management classes
- Behavioral classes
- Vocational training
Finally, in some cases, fines and restitution are imposed as a punishment. Sometimes it is part of other programs. In rare cases concerning child sex offenders, surgical or chemical castration can be an option.
For more information, speak to a criminal defense attorney today.