Senate Criminal Justice – Update on Zero Tolerance, Early

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Senate Criminal Justice Committee
October 7, 2009
Walter A. McNeil, Secretary
Florida Department of Corrections
Violations of Probation
Probation Officer Responsibilities
• Probation Officers monitor and enforce conditions of
supervision.
• It is the officer’s responsibility to notify the court whenever
the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a violation
of any condition of supervision has occurred.
• Officers notify the court of violations by sending the court a
warrant, affidavit, and violation report or by sending the
court a technical violation notification letter.
Violations of Probation
• New arrests (felony, misdemeanor, criminal traffic)
• Technical violations
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Not reporting as required or instructed
Moving without permission
Positive drug test
Failure to attend evaluation or treatment
Having contact with the victim
Failure to comply with curfew
Failure to pay victim restitution
Violations of Probation
• Florida caselaw provides that violations of probation
must be willful and substantial.
• Historically, probation officers used their judgment
as to whether an offender’s violation was willful or
substantial in determining whether to file a
violation.
Zero Tolerance
March 2003 - The Department announced a zero tolerance
policy due to inconsistencies found statewide in reporting
violations.
Under the zero tolerance policy, probation officers were
required to report all alleged violations of probation to the
court, regardless of whether the officer felt that the violation
was willful or substantial.
Elimination of Zero Tolerance
• Early 2006 – The Department’s policies regarding reporting violations
changed.
• Probation officers were once again permitted to use their judgment as
to whether a violation was willful or substantial in determining
whether to file a violation.
• Officers were also required to include in the violation report a
recommendation as to how the court should dispose of the violation.
• Throughout 2007, every probation officer and supervisor was
provided training to ensure officers were reporting violations of
probation consistent with the new policies.
Technical Violation Notification Letters
• June 2007 – Senate Bill 1792
– Authorized courts to accept a “Technical Violation
Notification Letter” in lieu of a warrant, affidavit, and
violation report.
• Approximately ¾ of judges statewide have
authorized the Department to submit technical
violation notification letters.
Impact
• The elimination of zero tolerance, the increased use of
“Technical Violation Notification” letters, and requiring
violation disposition recommendations has had a significant
positive impact.
 Violations are being handled without arrests and use of
jail beds.
 Prison admissions due to technical violations decreased
by 19% (1,971 offenders) in FY 08-09.
 Equates to more than a $39 million savings.
EARLY TERMINATION
OF PROBATION
Early Termination
•
Section 948.04(3), Florida Statutes
If the probationer has performed satisfactorily, has not been found in
violation of any terms or conditions of supervision, and has met all
financial sanctions imposed by the court, including, but not limited to,
fines, court costs, and restitution, the Department of Corrections may
recommend early termination of probation to the court at any time
before the scheduled termination date.
•
Although the statute provided that recommendations for early
termination of supervision may occur at any time, Department
procedure was more restrictive.
•
Department procedure required offenders to serve at least 18
months or 1/2 of the supervision period, whichever was greater,
before an officer could recommend early termination.
Early Termination
• In November 2008, the Department revised its early
termination policies to require that offenders serve at least
1/2 of their supervision period before an officer could
recommend early termination.
• In late 2008, the Department conducted a statewide review
of each probation case to determine whether an offender
was eligible for early termination.
• As a result, the number of early terminations has doubled
over the past year.
Impact
• The Department’s revised early termination policies
have greatly contributed to increasing the offender
supervision success rate.
January, 2007
29.4%
July, 2009
44.1%
SENATE BILL 1722
Sections 1 and 2
SB 1722 – Section 1
•
Created s. 775.082(10), Florida Statutes
– If a defendant is sentenced for an offense committed on
or after July 1, 2009, which is a third degree felony but
not a forcible felony as defined in s. 776.08, and
excluding any third degree felony violation under
chapter 810, and if the total sentence points are 22
points or fewer, the court must sentence the offender to
a non-state prison sanction.
– Court can sentence to prison if the court makes written
findings that a non-state prison sanction could present a
danger to the public.
SB 1722 – Section 1
• CJIC estimated that if 50% of eligible offenders were
diverted from state prison, there would be 329 fewer prison
admissions this fiscal year.
 $3.3 million savings (annual operating costs)
• Over a five-year period, CJIC estimated that there would be
962 fewer prison admissions.
 $69.3M million savings (annual operating costs)
SB 1722 – Section 2
• Creates the Prison Diversion Program (s. 921.00241, F.S.)
• Effective for offenses committed on or after July 1, 2009, a
court may sentence offenders who meet the following
criteria to a non-state prison sanction:
– The offender's primary offense is a felony of the third degree.
– The offender's total sentence points score is not more than 48
points, or the offender's total sentence points score is 54 points and
6 of those points are for a violation of supervision and do not
involve a new violation of law.
– The offender has not been convicted or previously convicted of a
forcible felony as defined in s. 776.08, but excluding any third
degree felony violation under chapter 810.
– The offender's primary offense does not require a minimum
mandatory sentence.
SB 1722 – Section 2
• If the court elects to sentence a person to a non-state prison
sanction, the court shall sentence the offender to a term of
supervision with mandatory participation in a prison
diversion program.
• The prison diversion program shall be designed to meet the
unique needs of each judicial circuit and of the offender
population of that circuit. The prison diversion program
may require residential, nonresidential, or day-reporting
requirements; substance abuse treatment; employment;
restitution; academic or vocational opportunities; or
community service work.
SB 1722 – Section 2
• $700,143 appropriation to establish two pilot programs.
• Worked with local judges and community organizations to
establish pilot programs in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties
• Hillsborough program started September 1, 2009
• Pinellas program started October 1, 2009
• Program duration is 6 months to 1 year and consists of a
myriad of services that target the individualized needs of the
offender.
• Employment assistance, vocational programs, substance
abuse treatment, help with family issues, behavior
counseling and support, anger management, etc.
SB 1722 – Section 2
• CJIC estimated that if the Prison Diversion Program were
implemented statewide and if 2.5% of the eligible
population were diverted from prison, there would be 62
fewer prison admissions this fiscal year
 $622,046 savings (annual operating costs)
• Over a 5-year period, CJIC estimated that there would be
229 fewer prison admissions
 $4.9 million savings (annual operating costs)
• Prison Diversion is not statewide – currently only operating
in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Walter A. McNeil, Secretary
Florida Department of Corrections
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