Society-First, a nonprofit, wishes to address the irrationality of some of the legislature's past sentence structuring and how such legislation negatively affects us as a society. In particular, we would like to address the negative costs that stem from thousands of Life sentences the taxpayers of Florida are paying for every year for the irrational legislation between the years of 1983-1994.
The annual costs for a single offender to be incarcerated range from anywhere between:
* 25 to 55 thousand dollars to house these offenders every year
* 250 to 550 thousand dollars every ten years
* 400 thousand to over a million dollars every 20 years
(Note: Again, this is only one inmate, so a thousand inmates could amount to well over a billion dollars... 20,000 thousand Lifers could amount to well over 20 billion dollars!)
As every single offender under this sentencing structure has been incarcerated for anywhere between 26-37 years, they have already cost the Florida taxpayers a whopping billion dollars! This is accounting for just a very small percentage of the whole pie, as Florida averages around 100,000 inmates a year, thus, making this only a blip on the radar of irrational cost such sentencing schemes have been accruing us. It all continues to drain funds that could be better allocated to education, homeland security, and healthcare through justice reform.
VIOLATES EQUAL PROTECTION
The legislature created a "patently irrational" sentencing scheme between October 1, 1983, and May 24, 1994, which violates the "rationality requirement" of the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Florida Constitutions.
Parole was first authorized by the legislature in 1941, but in 1983 the legislature created the sentencing guidelines which effectively abolished parole for NON-CAPITAL felonies and in 1995 completely abolished parole. In the years between 1983-1994 there were only two crimes that could still receive the possibility of being paroled early from a Life sentence:
1.) Capital Murder, or
2.) Capital Sexual Battery.
In other words, had the offender killed the victim during a robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, burglary, or whatnot then he would have gotten a much more favorable sentence than had he not. Under such dangerous legislation, offenders had a "substantial incentive" to commit the far greater crime of first-degree murder as they would be "rewarded" with a lesser life sentence (a possibility for parole), rather than a greater life sentence (no possibility of parole).
There are thousands of individuals with such irrational LWOP sentences which should be deemed inconsistent with the legislature's intent to protect the public by preventing the death of innocent people. Under the 1983-1994 statutes governing these irrational laws, the legislature placed the public at risk by creating a sentencing disparity or anomaly that gave offenders a substantial incentive to commit a far greater offense (i.e., first-degree felony murder).
The notion that they could get a lesser sentence if they killed their victim was, essentially what was enacted for over eleven years... and we are still paying billions of unnecessary dollars for the incarceration of irrational sentences.
The Supreme Court of Florida even acknowledges the illegality of greater for lesser laws, "If the purpose of the statutes is to discourage lethal attacks against law enforcement officers, as the State contends, then the penalty for the completed crime should be greater, not less, than the penalty for the attempt. Otherwise, a criminal who attempts to murder a law enforcement officer would have a substantial incentive to complete the act to avoid exposure to the harsher penalty. The State's interpretation thus would seem to encourage, not discourage, lethal attacks. This is an irrational result."
When a defendant faces a lesser crime than first-degree felony murder, he has the illegal potential to receive a more severe punishment than had he committed the greater crime of murder. This makes such a sentence patently illegal as it violates both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions against irrational legislation.
We, here at Society-First, invite those who have been impacted by this illegal archaic law to share their personal experience, solutions, or questions concerning this plight on our society. It matters not, whether you are a victim, an ex-offender, inmate, family member, church, correctional officer, or simply a citizen, you are an important piece to the solution that we seek.
Please, provide any comments, testimonies, facts, or points that you want Society-First to look further into. Send us your story, or videogram by emailing us. Check the category that best fits the point of your concerns and/or comments. We look forward to hearing your feedback on what's important to you.