Scott Says Florida's Prison System is too Expensive

Florida has one of the nation's largest prison populations due in large part to the state's strict sentencing laws. Now, Governor-elect Rick Scott says that system is too expensive to maintain. His plan would let some prisoners out before their sentence is up.

Prison time. It's a life more than 100,000 Floridians are living right now.

Lauretta Jefferson can only hope the young man who's accused of shooting her son will be condemned to the same fate.

“I'd rather pay for him to sit in jail than for him to be at home under the comfort of his family, his friends,” she said.

If he's convicted, under current Florida law, that suspect will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence behind bars. It's a mandate championed 15 years ago by then State Senator Charlie Crist.

“I believe in appropriate punishment - I'm Chain Gang Charlie!”

But now the man set to succeed Crist as governor, Rick Scott, could be about to revisit the 85 percent law.

Scott's transition team recommends giving judges the authority to hand down so-called 'split sentences'. Inmates would spend part of their time in prison and the other part on supervised parole.

Critics, including Lauretta, call the approach dangerous to society.

Far from endangering the public safety, the Scott team argues the earlier prisoners are released, the less likely it would be they'd commit a new crime. That's because unlike now, they'd be closely watched by a parole officer.

“Sometimes good politics doesn't always make good policy.”

Rob Weissert with Florida TaxWatch helped craft the recommendation, which was ultimately picked up by the Scott team. He says studies show when a Florida inmate is released right now, chances are better than not they'll wind up back in the system within 10 years. A major factor is a lack of supervision.

“Reducing recidivism is the best way that we can save money, because it means we don't have to build more prisons in the future,” he said. “We don't have to have new facilities. We don't have to staff and we don't have to spend all of that money that we're spending on a system that all it's doing is creating more crime.”

For Lauretta, that's debatable.

“I honestly wish, hope, that he spends the rest of his life in jail,” she said.

She's also hoping the sentencing law doesn't change in the name of her son and countless other victims looking for justice.

The TaxWatch study endorsed by Scott's transition team notes Florida spends $9 million a year on a parole commission, but the commission only grants early release to prisoners who were convicted before the 85 percent law was passed.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ron Location: Cental Florida on May 14, 2012 at 03:17 PM
    I have worked with inmates for several years now. I believe that many have learned their lesson and will choose the right path when they get out. I agree that DOC has many corrupt gaurds but unfortunately that's everywhere. Getting out early should be on a individual case by case. I also agree the inmates that have a support system and a place to go are more likely to succeed. After so many years in prison I think it's pretty pointless to keep a non-violent person in prison for the tax payers to carry. Let them out in the real world and earn their own way!
  • by Toni Location: Fl Oct 7, 2011 on Oct 8, 2011 at 09:27 PM
    I agree with Kelly about the system cause my husband is doing a 15 year sentence and he never been any trouble and doing time cause of some one said he did something and when it came for the people to show up they didnt but the state pick it up and charged him cause he is from a different state but I pray daily that he will come home real soon to his family cause we need him and i cant only do so much with the boys it take a men to teach a boy how to be a men. but i thank god for keeping us through this tough times.
  • by Kelly Location: FL on Oct 2, 2011 at 08:35 PM
    I hope and pray that our justice system has major changes. Our son was sentenced to FORTY (40) years in prison on a first time offense at the age of 19. NO one was 'physically' hurt, murdered, raped or touched in any way. While we DO believe he deserves punishment, we believe that 40 years for a first time offender is too much. Murders, etc. are not even doing that much time AND given second chances. Praying for everyone involved and still believing for our son...
  • by DELLA Location: FL on Jul 12, 2011 at 08:21 PM
    THIS IS GREAT. MY SON HAD HIS FIRST OFFENCE AND GOT THREE YEARS. HE IS JUST 21 SO HE HAS NOT HAD A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE AS AN ADULT. HE NEED TO BE OUT SO THAT HE CAN TAKE CARE OF HIM SELF. IN THERE HE DO NOT KNOW HOW HARD IT IS OUT HERE. IT COST A LOT TO KEEP HIM FED AND GOING TO THE DR. I WOLD LOVE IT IF SOME OF THESE GUYS CAN GET OUT OF THERE. G*R*E*A*T GOV SCOTT
  • by Anonymous on Apr 28, 2011 at 06:22 PM
    how does incarceration help a non violent offender. these non violent offenders are not criminals, they have committed a criminal decision..most are young and first time offenders. let them out and let them start their lives. give them their 2nd chance now.
  • by Pam Location: Coral Springs on Apr 15, 2011 at 06:22 AM
    I believe he should certainly go for it. The longer the non-violent inmates stay in prison the more it costs us all in the long run. No matter if these inmates are our love ones, or if we're just tax payers. Either way it's costing us all too much.
  • by MAE Location: FLORIDA on Apr 5, 2011 at 03:31 PM
    1983 THE PAROLE COMMISSION WERE GIVEN 10 YEARS TO FINISH UP THEIR BUSINESS,THEY ARE WAY OVER DUE.THERE ARE MANY INMATES,WHO ARE NOT VIOLENT.HAVEN`T MURDERED ANY ONE AND ARE NOT A THREAT TO SOCIETY.THEY ARE BEING HELD IN PRISON,BECAUSE SOME ONE IS MAD A THEM.YET THEY HAVE LIFE A LIFE SENTENCE UNJUSTLY.THE GOV, SHOULD REDUCE THEIR TIME TO 50YEARS SO THEY CAN COUNT THEIR GAINTIME AND BE RELEASED.THESE PEOPLE ARE GETTING OLD.THEY NEED TO BE HOME WITH FAMILY,SO THEY CAN GET THE MEDICAL HELP,AS NEEDED.THIS WILL HELP THE OVER CROWDING PROBLEM.
  • by Antonietta Location: orlando on Apr 4, 2011 at 08:36 PM
    I thank he should go for it because the system is all about money when it should be about helping people better there self. who do they thank take care of the people that are in there and they are steady going up on stuff making it harder for the ones who don't want to see there family member without. it's better things that can be done to help people do better but they make it so hard for them when they get out that's why most of them return. help create programs to rehabilitate them so they can come home and get a job and better there self. one thing everyone must know is we all will answer the same God and everyone will pay for there sins.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 17, 2011 at 06:49 PM
    Some people do not deserve to be released but they need to tske s close look at who they have behind bars. I spent 7 years in Fl prison and I have seen lots of people in ther for 3 to 5 years on DRIVING offenses. Thats ludicrous. Its all about money and how much the goverment gives the state of Fl to house each inmate, So why would they wanna let people go?? THEY DONT!!!!!!
  • by Terri Location: Parker on Feb 28, 2011 at 03:37 PM
    I totally agree some of these guards think they are GOD!my son was sentenced to prison for using drugs i did everything n my power to help him i put him n rehab he got with the wrong crowd started using again he was sentenced to 36mths but some of our guards who swear in to do whats right DON'T guards were giving my son & a cpl other inmates drugs then turns around & reports it can he say who gave it to him NO HE CAN'T cuz no1 likes a snitch n there he had to take his 60days n the box with a yr of his visits taken away what happened to the guard who was makin money off them NOTHING @ All when i tried to help my son out they listened n to his phones all hell broke lose there he was moved out of that dorm for his safety murderers, rapist,child molesters no they shouldn't be out but there are some of our young prisoners n prison now because THE SYSTEM FELD THEM.
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