Florida Policy Project makes the case for a smarter approach to prisons and incarceration

by | Oct 18, 2023

  • Over 60% of inmates released from Florida prisons are rearrested within three years, new reports reveal.
  • Nearly one-third of Florida’s 82,000 inmates are 50 years or older, raising concerns about the high cost of their care.
  • The Florida Policy Project releases comprehensive studies advocating for education and employment programs to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for aging inmates.

More than 90 percent of Florida’s 82,000 inmates will eventually reenter society, but over 60 percent of those – 44,280 people – will be rearrested within three years, according to two new reports aimed at improving the state’s criminal justice system. The studies also spotlight the high cost of caring for Florida’s aging inmate population, nearly one-third of whom are 50 years or older, and make the case for smarter incarcertation policy.

The reports were released today by the Florida Policy Project (FPP), a non-partisan research organization. Authored by Dr. Thomas Baker, PhD, from the University of Central Florida, the research focuses on best practices for reducing recidivism and caring for older inmates.

FPP’s President, former Republican state senator Jeff Brandes, emphasized that “Florida has an opportunity to do more to keep our communities safe by educating and employing released inmates. The data shows that states with robust education and job-focused reentry programs have better outcomes, which improves public safety.”

Data in the report titled “Best Practices to Limit Inmate Reentry to Florida’s Prisons” suggests that education and employment programs could lead to cost savings and second-chance hiring opportunities. It argues that such initiatives could also reduce homelessness and unemployment, thereby decreasing correctional costs in the long term.

The second report, “Better Outcomes to Care for Florida’s Aging Inmates,” indicates that it is more expensive to care for older inmates, who are less likely to reoffend. FPP points to successful programs in other states that focus on digital literacy and compassionate release as potential models for Florida.

A third report, focusing on best practices for veterans in Florida’s prison system, is slated for release in November. FPP intends for its research to serve as a resource for Florida’s legislature as it considers policy changes. The group is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan research organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for Florida residents and guests through education and data-driven research. Their focus areas include housing affordability, criminal justice, property insurance, and transportation.


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