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Florida's Prison Population Appears To Be On Decline

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Florida’s prison population appears to be on the decline.

“Right now, we’ve got about 96,700 inmates,” said David Ensley, the Chief of Research and Data Analysis for the Florida Department of Corrections. “That’s down from…we were over 102,000 in late 2010. So, the population has decreased in recent years.”

And, Prison Chief Julie Jones says that prison population decline can be attributed to a number of factors.

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Credit Florida Channel
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Florida Channel
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones speaking to members of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Wednesday.

“We have sheriffs,” she said, speaking before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Wednesday. “We have individuals in communities that are actively trying to use supervision in lieu of incarceration. We have the legislature passed for the Department…starting several years ago, we piloted alternative sanctions, which means if you’re on probation, we’re going to give you several bites at the apple and give you intense supervision. And, if you violate a technical violation, we’re not going to send you back to prison. We’re going to send you back to court.”

For example, Jones says if a technical violator of probation is sent back to court, her prison agency will ask a judge to get the inmate into some sort of program.

Still, a recent study states probation violations account for 15 percent of Florida inmates going back to prison.

That same study by Florida State University’s Project on Accountable Justice also finds inmates with long prison terms make up about half of the state’s prisoner population.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.