In the past, Florida had high imprisonment rates. That is probably due to strict supervision violation policies, mandatory minimum sentences and limited release options.

Times are changing, and the rate of imprisonment is dropping. The jury is out on whether that is a good thing.

The problem with imprisonment rates

The Florida Legislature recently ordered a complete report on the criminal justice system in the state. It revealed that, over a period of ten years, admissions declined 28 percent.

That might sound like good news, but the Sunshine State is still the nation’s tenth-ranking jurisdiction for imprisonment rates overall. It is 23 percent higher than the national average in this statistic.

One of the most sobering points is that prisoners tend to serve significantly longer sentences here. That includes those imprisoned for non-violent crimes.

The Florida punishment laws

The overall crime rate in Florida is high, at least compared to the national average. The punishments depend on the type of crime in question, as well as several other factors.

For example, as FindLaw explains, convictions from drug possession charges could result in high fines and up to 30 years in prison. Even misdemeanors, such as possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, could carry punishments of up to a year in prison.

No single statistic is able to show the whole picture when it comes to something as complex as the Florida justice system. Lower imprisonment and crime rates might sound like good news, but these changes find balance in older prison populations, longer average sentences and continued imprisonment for non-violent offenses.

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