Florida has a reputation for being tough on crime, but it also releases more inmates from prison without further supervision or support than any other state, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts reported in the Orlando Sentinel. And those unwatched former inmates are more likely to get in trouble again. Adam Gelb, Pew’s public safety project director, says the lack of supervision of released convicts runs counter to “plain common sense.”
The report argues offenders should finish their sentences not behind bars but on mandatory community supervision. Pew says this would give offenders a better chance to avoid re-offending, saving the cost of housing them behind bars. The Pew report fits into a larger debate over what advocates call “smart justice,” a focus on prison alternatives and re-entry programs aimed at decreasing recidivism and helping offenders rejoin society. According to Pew, two-thirds of the 21,426 inmates released from Florida prisons in 2012 were sent away without supervision. The number of inmates released without supervision across the nation more than doubled between 1990 and 2012.